February 8th, 2023
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Statement by New Georgia Project Action Fund CEO in Response to President Biden’s 2nd State of the Union Address

New Georgia Project Action Fund CEO, Kendra Cotton, released the following statement reflecting on the State of the Union address in which President Biden focused heavily on economic and infrastructure wins but failed to give due attention to key issues of concern to Black Georgia voters, who contributed significantly to electing him to his first term.

“I commend President Biden and his administration for many of the accomplishments outlined in last night’s State of the Union address—from a stabilizing economy to a renewed commitment to tackling climate change. As a Black mother, I also deeply appreciate the President’s acknowledgment of the incessant trauma and pain experienced by Black communities across the nation at the hands of police officers. His admission of the different realities that Black and white parents face when raising and keeping their kids safe was the first of its kind I’ve heard from a sitting President. But admitting the problem is only step one; I expect the President to match his words with concrete action so bold that Black Americans can dare to live freely and safely.

In that spirit of accountability, it is not lost on me or Black Georgia voters that little mention was made during the President’s speech of some of the issues most concerning to our communities: student loan debt, reproductive justice, and voting rights. A productive conversation about the economy and investment in education must include a plan to address the millions of dollars of student loan debt burdening Americans—especially Black Americans—of all ages. Discussions around healthcare must center and prioritize maternal health and the full spectrum of reproductive healthcare—not just a swift mention of abortion access. And, above all else, federal voting rights protections must be ushered into law immediately; it is not possible for the state of our Union to be strong if the state of our democracy is not.

These issues are important and deserving of attention in and of themselves. However, as Georgia cements itself as a key battleground state ahead of a crucial presidential election, let me be clear: these are winning issues. Any leader seeking to win Georgia—and thus the highest elected office in our country—must win the Black vote. And, by and large, Black Georgia voters—a growing and powerful constituency who showed up to the polls in record-breaking numbers in 2020 to deliver President Biden’s victory and then showed up again in 2021 and 2022 to guarantee progressive control of the Senate—want to see more action on the issues important to them. We heard it at the more than 3 million doors we knocked in 2022, in the 330,000 conversations we had with Georgia voters last year, and in our research and polling of Black voters that show support for progressive policies such as Medicaid expansion, student loan debt cancelation, and voting reforms.

So, to all those beginning to focus their eyes on 2024, know that we at NGPAF are already focused. Our work to engage Black and brown voters is constant. Yours should be too. Happy Black History Month!”

New Georgia Project Action Fund (NGPAF) is a leading grassroots organization in Georgia focused on increasing the civic participation of the New Georgia Majority—Black, Latinx, AAPI, and young Georgians—and other historically marginalized communities by building political power in support of progressive leaders, policies, and issues.