Biden-Harris at 100 days, by Marc H. Morial

5/6/2021, 6 p.m.
One hundred days into their administration, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have made surprisingly bold inroads in …

One hundred days into their administration, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have made surprisingly bold inroads in confronting racial injustice and the COVID-19 pandemic, but significant challenges remain.

President Biden and Vice President Harris entered the White House at a moment of unprecedented multiple crises, and they have risen to confront those crises with remarkable speed and effectiveness. With the help of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, they have illuminated the systemic racial inequality that hinders our nation’s progress and set a course for healing. Whether the nation can stay that course remains to be seen.

President Biden has been purposeful and intentional about including racial justice components in every policy he has undertaken in the first 100 days. He has used his moral voice to create a distinction between the poisonous philosophy of white supremacy and the idea of an America for everyone, an America of opportunity and pathways to progress for all people.

Importantly, he has changed the tone of governing, adopting a tone of inclusiveness that stands in stark contrast to the reality show, finger-pointing, disparaging tone of the recent past.

In a letter sent shortly after the election, I charged President Biden and Vice President Harris to produce an immediate and extensive COVID-19 relief package. They responded with the American Rescue Plan, one of the largest anti-poverty measures in a generation. It has helped slash daily coronavirus infections by more than 70 percent, while quadrupling the daily number of vaccinations.

President Biden has made it possible for Americans whose lives were upended by the pandemic to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The letter established a set of fundamental principles on racial justice and equity to guide the Biden and Harris administration in the first 100 days and beyond. I asked them to assemble an administration that reflects the diversity of America. They nominated and fought for confirmation of the most racially diverse cabinet in U.S. history.

I asked that they commit to fundamentally transforming the criminal justice system. They have restored the meaningful use of federal pattern or practice investigations, lifted restrictions on the use of consent decrees to hold police departments accountable for abuse and ended federal contracts with private prisons.

I asked them to protect and defend voting rights. They have put the entire federal government to work in promoting and expanding access to voter registration and participation.

I asked them to work toward economic parity for African-Americans. The day they were sworn into office, the very first executive order President Biden signed declared “... it is the policy of my Administration that the federal government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.”

I asked them to advance equity in educational opportunities for all American children. The administration’s unprecedented investment in Title I schools and higher education will help students recover from the learning loss experienced during the pandemic.

I asked them to promote a healthier nation by prioritizing access to health care, including testing, treatments and cures for COVID-19 in communities of color. More than 200 million Americans have been vaccinated, more than double the initial goal, including underserved communities. Tens of thousands more Americans have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and their premiums are lower.

As productive as the first 100 days have been, a tremendous amount of work remains to be done. President Biden and Vice President Harris must make good on their promise to invest in America, to build a middle-class and to restore faith in our democracy. The American people need tangible results.

The National Urban League’s full progress report on the Biden-Harris administration’s first 100 days can be found here: https://bit.ly/3aJQ8Wr

The writer is president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League.