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Foxx aids Obama's Cabinet diversity
Nominee would be second black in administration
Published Tuesday, April 30, 2013 11:53 am
by Herbert L. White

Nominating Anthony Foxx Obama as U.S. transportation secretary helps President Barack Obama deflect some criticism of the lack of diversity in his Cabinet.

President Barack Obama introduces Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx (center) as his nominee for Transportation secretary on April 29 at the White House. Outgoing Transportation chief Ray LaHood (right) is on the right.

Since being re-elected in November, Obama has been pilloried by political allies for his nearly all-white board of department chiefs, which have fewer black permanent cabinet members than those of his immediate predecessors, Bill Clinton (six) and George W. Bush (four). If confirmed by the Senate, Foxx would be the second black cabinet member from a permanent agency, joining Attorney General Eric Holder.

Obama elevated cabinet status to three black officials in during his first term: United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson. Jackson and Kirk have since left the administration.

"He's not being held accountable for his policies or his appointments," former U.S. Commission on Civil Rights chair Mary Frances Berry told the National Newspaper Publishers Association in February. "In politics, the squeaky wheel gets the most oil." 

Obama credited Foxx, who turned 42 on Tuesday, with helping turn around Charlotte’s economic climate since taking office in 2009 during a “bruising economic crisis,” Obama said.

“The economy is growing. There are more jobs, more opportunity,” Obama said. “And if you ask Anthony how that happened, he’ll tell you that one of the reasons is that Charlotte made one of the largest investments in transportation in the city’s history.”

The Congressional Black Caucus, which had been a vocal critic of the cabinet's lack of diversity and vetted 61 potential appointees for Obama's consideration only to have them turned down, praised Foxx's nomination.

“I am especially pleased the President has nominated Anthony Foxx as Secretary of Transportation," CBC Chair Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) said in a statement. "Through his work as mayor and as a city councilman in Charlotte, Anthony addressed the needs of an area that experienced tremendous growth within the past decade. Anthony will surely be an asset to the President’s cabinet and to this nation and I look forward to working with him to ensure the needs of our country’s transportation system are adequately met.”

During Foxx’s two terms, Charlotte has broken ground on a streetcar project that would ultimately connect the city’s urban core from east to west and expanded the international facility at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. The city’s Lynx light rail system is expanding to UNC Charlotte.

Since becoming president in 2009, Obama has championed rebuilding U.S. infrastructure as a cog in boosting employment and the nation’s economy.


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