Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee Highlight Broadband Technology Policies

African American leaders today hailed the potential for broadband technologies to improve conditions in communities of color, while calling on Congress and industry to expand broadband access. The leaders’ comments came at a forum held at the National Press Club, where they joined with technology experts to discuss the importance broadband access to economic and social progress. “Broadband technology and deployment is a critical issue for all Americans, and especially those in communities of color,” said U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), who spoke at the event. “Whether it’s health care, education, or the impact on small businesses, broadband technology plays a growing role in the life of African Americans across the country.” Rep. Jackson Lee also stressed the extensive scope broadband technology has had in empowering African Americans and other people of color in a range of public policy areas. Her comments were echoed by Ralph B. Everett, President and CEO of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a research and policy institution that focuses on issues of concern to African Americans. Everett discussed how broadband technology can bring social, political and economic opportunities to vulnerable populations, enable community leaders and advocates to reach broader audiences, and open new avenues for upward mobility. “Not only is broadband access is a ticket to knowledge and economic opportunity, it can also make an enormous contribution to breaking down social barriers that have long kept many African Americans from realizing their full potential,” said Everett. “Because of this, the widespread deployment of faster, higher-bandwidth networks can and will have an enormous influence in improving the lives of people of color.” In addition to describing the improvements broadband technology has brought to the historically disadvantaged, forum participants also discussed how government policies might hinder or help the deployment of next-generation networks in struggling urban and rural communities. The Joint Center is one of the nation’s premier research and public policy institutions and the only one whose work focuses primarily on issues of particular concern to African Americans and other people of color. The Joint Center’s activities are focused on improving the socioeconomic status of black Americans and other minorities, expanding their effective participation in the political and public policy arenas, and promoting communications and relationships across racial and ethnic lines to strengthen the nation’s pluralistic society.

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