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February 12, 2020

Forbes: Congresswoman Pressley Gives Fed Chair Powell Key Lesson In Black History

The House Financial Services Committee saved the best for last at Tuesday’s hearing with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

Ayanna Pressley, a congresswoman from Massachusetts, gave Powell a live lesson in Black History that is actually a key chapter in a American history: the role of the civil rights movement, and of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King in particular, in pushing for full employment policies that define the Fed’s role to this day.

Pressley was honing in on the concept of a “jobs guarantee,” a public commitment to the notion that everyone who is able and willing should be able to work.

“In a 1944 address, FDR called for a second Bill of Rights which included the right to a useful and financially rewarding job,” Pressley said.

“Justice Thurgood Marshall argued that the Right to a Job is secured by the 14th Amendment,” she added. “And Dr. Martin Luther King called on the government to guarantee a job to all people who want to work, and are able to work.”

“Dr. King’s legacy is often reduced to just one speech, and the March on Washington often mischaracterized. The March on Washington was actually the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It was a March for Economic Justice.

“And I take special claim to the fact that Dr. King and Coretta actually met in Boston. I represent Boston, and I don’t think she gets enough oxygen for the role that she played in the movement.

“And so, after Dr. King’s assassination, Coretta Scott King picked up the mantle, pushing the Fed to adopt a full employment mandate, and was actually standing behind President Carter as he signed the Humphrey-Hawkins Act into law. And that’s the reason you are here today.”

Powell, somewhat stunned, replied candidly:

“First, thank you for that history, I didn’t know that. So that’s our goal, that’s what we’re working to do at all times,” Powell said about full employment. “And we’re never going to say we’ve accomplished that goal, but we’ve certainly made some progress.”