Transportation Policy: An Opportunity to Put More Black Men into Good Jobs

Oct 01, 2012

By Kisha Bird

 "We need transformational policy reform in the transportation field in order to support good community jobs, access to jobs, and quality of life" - Anita M. Hairston, Senior Associate for Transportation Policy, PolicyLink

Transportation in America -- it represents our highways and our roads, our trains and our railroads, buses and trucks.  Transportation  --  it's how we get from point A to point B - to work, school, doctors' appointments and weekend baseball and football games. Transportation in America is public transit, too - it's SEPTA in Philadelphia, BART in the San Francisco Bay Area, MTA in New York City and WMATA in Washington, DC.   It is as American as apple pie and essential to the connectivity of communities and the nation.  I am reminded of this everyday as I commute to and from work on the X2 bus in Washington, DC.  On the X2, which travels across the District from Ward 7 to Ward 1 from Minnesota Avenue to the White House, I see a diverse intersection of residents and riders.  I am also struck by the number of non-white bus operators that greet me daily and transport me safely to my destination.  And while I've never really considered why this was the case, my limited and anecdotal observations were reinforced at a recent congressional briefing hosted by the Economic Policy Institute on September 26, 2012, Transporting Black Men to Good Jobs: Transportation Infrastructure, Transportation Jobs, and Public Transit.

The briefing addressed both a timely and relevant topic aligned with CLASP's Youth Policy agenda - What is the potential of the transportation sector to deliver young men to futures of economic promise? How can industry sectors provide good jobs, good wages, and opportunity for advancement? What is the role that community must play in assembling the systems, funding, and resources to create pathways for young men? And what is the federal role in building community capacity?   The briefing featured CLASP's Director of Youth Policy, Linda Harris, as moderator and several other experts in the field:

  • Algernon Austin, Director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy at Economic Policy Institute
  • Jeff Brooks, Administrative Vice President and Director of the Transit Division at Transport Workers Union of America
  • Anita M. Hairston, Senior Associate for Transportation Policy at PolicyLink
  • Michelle Holder, Senior Labor Market Analyst at Community Service Society of New York
  • Brian Turner, Executive Director at Transportation Learning Center

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