After Black Caucus Chair Marcia Fudge took President Obama to task back in March for a lack of Black cabinet officials, things have picked up. Since Fudge’s public observation, three African Americans have been named to high ranking positions in the Obama Administration.
A month after Fudge’s request, President Obama nominated Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) to be the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Then, the President nominated former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to be the Secretary of Transportation. Today, Jeh Johnson, a Morehouse man whose dad was President of Fisk, was nominated by the President to be the next Secretary of Homeland Security. If Johnson is confirmed by the Senate, he will be the third African American member of Obama’s cabinet.
In a display of double standards by Republican members of the U.S. Senate — Rep. Watt has yet to be confirmed as FHFA Director. (Remember: This is the same group who confirmed the completely unqualified Michel Brown as FEMA Director and cabinet turkeys like Alberto Gonzalez.)
Let’s review the cabinet count regarding African Americans:
George W. Bush (8 years): 4 — Powell, Rice, Paige, Jackson
Bill Clinton (8 years): 7 — Espy, J. Brown, O’Leary, R. Brown, Herman, Slater, West
Barack Obama (4 years, 10 months): 2 — Holder, Foxx
By March 2013 after a flurry of cabinet nominations and high level selections (see chart below), the President had not nominated any African Americans. But now, there could be three if Johnson is confirmed. And with more vacancies sure to come as his second term moves forward, there could be much more cabinet diversity to come.