Civil Rights Leaders Demand Relief for Black Businesses Hurt by COVID

Civil rights activists and Black business leaders want the Biden administration to include targeted funding for Black-owned businesses in the next relief package.

The National Urban League, U.S. Black Chambers, and other Black-focused organizations are demanding that President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package allocate funds exclusively for Black small businesses.

“It should be specific,” Ron Busby, the president and CEO of U.S. Black Chambers said, according to CNN. “It should not be minority, it should not be underserved, it should be Black.”

Black-owned businesses have been suffering since the early days of the pandemic. The disparity between Black businesses and others became evident after the CARES Act was passed. Big and small white-owned businesses were able to access funds through the Paycheck Protection Program even when they weren’t supposed to. Meanwhile, Black-owned businesses struggled to obtain funding as large banks ignored their smaller Black clients.

Black businesses are also closing faster in the pandemic than others. According to the New York Federal Reserve, Black-owned businesses fell by 41% in the first three months of the pandemic alone.

Marc Morial, the president of the National Urban League, told CNN that Biden’s administration and its plans are better than what the Trump administration offered, but more must be done to keep Black businesses from the neglect they saw last year.

“We would like to see explicit targeting,” Morial told CNN. “The idea is that Black-owned businesses came to the pandemic thinly capitalized and already facing a range of challenges. Many have had to close because of no business, no savings, no reserve funds, and no access to financing.”

One thing Morial and others want to see is funds targeting businesses with less than five employees. According to Morial, the initial round of PPP funding focused on businesses that had large staffs or payroll budgets, but 99% of Black-owned businesses are run by sole entrepreneurs.

Other civil rights groups want Biden’s administration to focus on helping Black Americans who’ve lost their businesses and want to reopen them, those who have lost their jobs, and those wanting to launch a new business.


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