Members of Congress usually use recess to return to their home districts, but National Urban League head Marc Morial says he has a different idea for how to use that time: send them to the inner city.
Speaking to Whispers after a press conference held to release the National Urban League's annual "The State of Black America" report, Morial said that the inner city was "all too often defined by what people see in the media… and defined by perceptions."
Morial said members of Congress could move beyond those perceptions by visiting southeast or northeast Washington, or the inner city of nearby Philadelphia, to "see the faces of poverty, the infrastructure which is there and the infrastructure which is lacking."
He compared the idea to the trips lawmakers often take to foreign countries, commonly called CODELs.
"Members of Congress visit all kinds of foreign lands. I think there should be some fact-finding right here," he said, suggesting lawmakers set up meetings in the inner city with community and faith-based organizations, visit churches and schools, and talk with those dealing with the effects of the recession. "I think it would help to sensitize members who sometimes see these discussions simply through political or ideological lenses," he said.
Rep. Marcia Fudge, D- Ohio, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D- New York, who both spoke at the National Urban League presser, did not immediately respond to a question from Whispers about whether they would support such an idea.
"The State of Black America" report found that although black Americans are largely more educated than in the past, they remain vastly less employed than white Americans who hold the same degrees.