Dec 2, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Legacy civil rights groups: Biden's transition needs to include us

Photo of Joe Biden with his arms raised at the NAACP 110th National Convention in 2019
President-elect Joe Biden at the NAACP 110th National Convention last year. Photo: Bill Pugliano via Getty

Prominent civil rights leaders are concerned that President-elect Joe Biden is deciding his administration without their input, NBC News reported Tuesday.

Why it matters: As Biden looks to deliver his promise of forming a diverse administration, he will have to contend with different factions of the liberal movement that might pull him in different directions.

The big picture: Biden this month announced his choices for a number of cabinet positions, his economic team and the White House communication team. Of these, several are Black. But some civil rights advocates say it's not enough.

  • NAACP CEO Derrick Johnson told NBC News his organization hasn't met with Biden or held conversations about key appointments and Georgia.
  • "Civil rights leaders in this country should be on par if not more than other constituency groups he has met with," Johnson said.
  • Moreover, Biden's transition team doesn't include anyone from the legacy civil rights groups, according to Marc Morial, head of the National Urban League.
  • Instead, they have reached out on their own in efforts to ensure their voices are heard.

Yes, but: Newer civil rights groups that emerged alongside the Black Lives Matter movement are finding seats at the table; Color of Change has had calls with Biden’s team almost daily, according to Vice President Arisha Hatch.

Worth noting: The transition and presidential Inaugural teams have announced a diverse slate of nominees, appointees, and staff over the past few weeks. These include:

  • Linda Thomas-Greenfield as ambassador to the United Nations; Rep. Cedric Richmond as senior advisor to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement; ouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi's former spokesperson Ashley Etienne as communications director for the vice president and Princeton's Cecilia Rouse as Council of Economic Advisers chair.
  • Other notable appointments include Yohannes Abraham as transition executive director and Tony Allen as presidential inauguration CEO.

What they're saying: Biden transition spokesperson Cameron French said in an emailed statement that the president-elect Biden will build "a diverse administration that looks like America," starting with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, the first woman of South Asian descent and first Black woman to serve in the role.

  • "His campaign and transition both succeeded in this effort," French said.
  • "He has announced several historic and diverse White House appointments and cabinet nominees to this point, and his success in finding diverse voices to develop and implement his policy vision to tackle our nation’s toughest challenges will be clear when our full slate of appointees and nominees is complete."

Go deeper: Black voters decided Biden's victory.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from French.

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