Trump tried taking credit for black employment. Guess how that went over.

During his 2018 State of the Union address, President Donald Trump tried to take credit for the rise in black employment.

But the Congressional Black Caucus knew better, refusing to stand up and clap for Trump’s half-truth, applause-seeking talking point.

It's not that black lawmakers don't want to celebrate actual historically low unemployment; it's that they knew Trump was falsely trying to take credit for something that was already happening years before he became president.


He'd tried to do the same just two days earlier on Twitter, too, when responding to — wait for it — Jay-Z.

But it turns out that black and Hispanic unemployment numbers were in steady decline for several years before Trump took office.

The numbers proving that aren't exactly hard to dig up. Gene Sperling, a former economic adviser to presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, had a hunch Trump might try to take credit for the drop in black and Hispanic unemployment, so he tweeted them out right before Trump's address.

Those numbers show that after the Great Recession peaked in 2009, black and Hispanic unemployment began to naturally decline, much like the overall unemployment rate. By the time Trump took office in January 2017, those numbers had dropped from 16.5% in 2010 in the black community to 7.8%. Likewise, Hispanic unemployment numbers had gone from a high of 12.9% in 2010 to 5.9%.

A more detailed chart from FactCheck.org shows the same results, with the added sting that black unemployment rates have actually hit a noticeable lag since Trump has come along.

The Congressional Black Caucus wasn't buying it.

And at least one other reason members of the Congressional Black Caucus chose to sit is that the talking point isn't totally accurate. Despite reaching new lows, black unemployment numbers continue to lag far behind those in white communities — something Trump failed to mention.

The unemployment rate as of December 2017 for white Americans is at 3.7% according to Bureau of Labor Statistics information, compared with 6.8% for black Americans.

The group additionally appeared to be aiming a message at Trump with their attire, wearing Afro-centric clothing in protest of Trump's recent comments about immigrants coming to America from "shithole" countries.

Politicians should share credit where it’s due while also not ignoring the real challenges that remain.

Progress has been made in minority communities. But tying those gains to recent political elections sends a misleading message about who deserves that credit and what work still remains ahead. So, if you hear someone complaining about black lawmakers not standing to cheer for Trump's rhetoric, remember it's because they know where things truly stand and how they came to be.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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