Biden Holds A Assembly With Members Of Historic Civil Rights Organizations : NPR

NPR’s Ailsa Chang speaks with Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, about the meeting between the NAACP and President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday.


President-elect Biden promised to name the most diverse cabinet in US history. His decision to head the Ministries of Defense, Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development is a step towards that goal. So did the meeting that Biden held with members of seven historic civil rights organizations that had their roots in the struggles of the 1960s. You met with the new President and Vice President today to share your priorities for the new administration. Marc Morial is the President and CEO of the National Urban League. He was in the meeting and is now joining us. Welcome.

MARC MORIAL: Hey, thank you very much, Ailsa. I am happy to be with you. And good evening to your listening audience.

CHANG: Thank you for being with us. We learned tonight that Biden plans to appoint Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge to head the HUD. Tell us how do you feel about this choice?

MORIAL: A positive step in a strong direction. She is a seasoned, veteran member of Congress, a past chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. She is the former head of a black women’s organization called Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She was the mayor of a Northeast Ohio ward and has been a great leader indeed. And I think she will give the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development the voice it lacks. It is the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.

MORIAL: Right.

MORIAL: So this department is the seat of the cities. It is a point of contact for the mayor and for many district leaders. It plays a wide role in low and middle income housing in this country. I am very excited about the prospect of her appointment.

CHANG: And you feel like she is well positioned to address these issues.

MORIAL: And I think she is not only well positioned, well qualified and really, really deserves it.

CHANG: Well, now I want to talk about being appointed Attorney General. I mean, obviously the Justice Department changed dramatically under Trump’s tenure. Has Biden made any commitments to you as to whom he will name as an AG?

MORIAL: There were no obligations. And I think the consensus from the group is that we want someone with a strong track record of civil rights, someone who has done the job of voting and reforming criminal justice. I think there are some of us who also think that an African-American attorney general would be a powerful way to demonstrate that the Justice Department is going to recapture its role, something it lost under Sessions and Barr, and its role as real will recapture the voice of justice in the nation – prosecuting hate crimes, prosecuting police misconduct, investigating violations of patterns and practices by police agencies regarding constitutional rights, and leadership on key issues that I know Joe Biden wants to move forward on such as B. the reform of the criminal justice system. So there were no hints, no suggestions from a particular person. I think we’ve talked more about the profile and qualifications we think are ideal for a new attorney general.

CHANG: With that in mind, how important is it to you that the attorney general candidate be someone with recent DOJ experience?

MORIAL: I don’t know if that’s a factor. I think recent experiences would be helpful, and I think that would be helpful. But it’s really the skill and the know-how and the knowledge. And I use the term gravitas. These are public roles. You’re dealing with Congress. You act and advise the President. They are important figures in public life. So a person must have a combination of know-how and gravitas and the public figure, especially the attorney general. The Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasury Secretary, and Secretary of Defense are really cabinet roles that the public is getting to know. You are in public a lot. And they have to bear with the gravita that comes with such important cabinet positions.

CHANG: Marc Morial is the President and CEO of the National Urban League. Thank you for joining us today.

MORIAL: Appreciate it. Have a nice evening.

CHANG: You too.

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