Slated to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Rep. Marcia Fudge will be the second Black woman to lead the agency. Her appointment comes as a national group of Black women urge the President-elect to recognize the importance and value Black women contributed to his election by appointing more Black women to the cabinet.
Led by #WinWithBlackWomen, a group formed in the late summer to push back on problematic rhetoric and language used to describe the Black women being considered as Biden’s nominee, the letter demands meaningful appointments of Black women in the Biden-Harris administration.
Fudge’s selection for HUD secretary received a generally positive response. In a statement, the Congressional Black Caucus applauded the president-elect for the selection. “We are relieved knowing that the same determination she brought to [past] battles will be brought to tackle one of the biggest looming threats facing Americans during this economic crisis: evictions and housing insecurity.” Fudge has been recognized as a champion for hungry families and communities hard hit by food insecurity.
While the food stamp program is not the same as housing, Fudge’s advocacy on behalf of struggling families and communities is seen as an asset. People’s Action, a multiracial working-class coalition of progressive organizations expressed hope that Fudge would prioritize tackling systemic inequities and market failures as renters struggle nationwide. “Representative Fudge will take the reins of HUD during one of the most significant housing crises in American history,” read the emailed statement in part.
“Before COVID-19 hit, 21 million households spent more than a third of their income on rent and half a million people slept on the streets on any given night. COVID-19 has laid bare the longstanding structural flaws of our housing policies as landlords may evict as many as 30 million tenants in early 2021.”
Prior to news of the planned appointment of Fudge as HUD secretary, she lobbied to serve as the Agricultural secretary. Fudge even challenged traditional considerations in making political appointments. “As this country becomes more and more diverse, we’re going to have to stop looking at only certain agencies as those that people like me fit in,” said previously. “You know, it’s always ‘we want to put the Black person in labor or HUD.”
A member of the House Committee on Agriculture and chair of the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversite and Department Operations, Fudge would have been the first Black woman appointed to lead the Department of Agriculture. Fudge’s knowledge and advocacy around nutrition programs could have been a major asset to the department, as nutrition programs comprise a majority of USDA spending.
Biden reportedly has selected former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as Agriculture secretary. Vilsack served as Agriculture secretary during the Obama Administration. Vilsack’s tenure was not without its issues including claims that under his leadership the “USDA promoted misleading data to depict a fictional renaissance in black farming.”
Although he apologized, Vilsack fired Shirley Sherrod in 2010 after a disinformation campaign by Breitbart released deceptively edited videos of comments she made about helping a white farmer years earlier. A long term advocate for Black farmers, Sherrod served as the Georgia State Director for Rural Development under the Department of Agriculture.