treasury secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenThere’s still time to stop Biden’s global minimum tax grab House Democrats call on Biden to unfreeze Afghan central bank reserves MORE noted in a speech Monday commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day that the United States has “much more work” to do to reduce racial inequality in the economy.

In remarks recorded at the National Action Network’s annual King’s Day Breakfast, Yellen touted steps the Biden administration has taken to foster a more inclusive economy while highlighting decades of unequal treatment for black Americans.

“From Jim Crow Reconstruction to the present day, our economy has never worked fairly for black Americans — or, really, any American of color,” Yellen said.

Yellen referenced King’s iconic 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech, in which he compared the discrimination faced by black Americans to a bounced check written by the founders.

“It is evident today that America has defaulted on this promissory note with respect to its citizens of color,” King said in his speech. “But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt!”

Yellen said that while King was referring to broader racial discrimination, his reference to a promissory note was referring to “economic injustice…linked to the broader injustice he fought against.”

Black Americans on average have far lower levels of wealth, employment, and household ownership than their white counterparts due to decades of discrimination and exclusion. Segregationist laws and practices in banking and real estate prevented black households from accessing economic opportunities available to whites, including key New Deal and GI Bill programs that helped fuel the post-economic boom. -Second World War.

The United States passed several laws in the wake of King’s assassination, in part to help close the racial wealth gap, including the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Act Credit and Community Reinvestment Act – a law intended to prevent racial discrimination in the housing market.

King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, was also a driving force behind the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act, which added a mandate to achieve the lowest possible unemployment rate to the Federal Reserve’s mandate.

Even so, the racial wealth gap persisted.

The average white household was about 10 times richer than the average black household before the COVID-19 pandemic, and December’s white unemployment rate of 3.1% was less than half the black unemployment rate of 7.2%. While 74% of white households owned their homes in Q3 2021, only 44% of black households did.

Yellen cited several actions taken by the Treasury to target racial economic disparities, including a review of diversity and equity within the department and the disbursement of $9 billion to community development financial institutions and institutions of deposit of minorities.

“Of course, no program or administration can fulfill the hopes and aspirations that Dr. King had for our country. There is still a lot of work the Treasury needs to do to close the racial wealth gap,” Yellen said.

President BidenJoe BidenCarville advises Democrats to ‘stop being a whiny party’The Senate’s broad social services and climate plan was held up in the Senate after Sen. Joe ManchinJoe Manchin’s Democrats Advance Voting Rights Ahead of Senate Review Sunday Shows – Voting Rights Legislation Dominates (DW.Va.) announced last month that it could not support the Build Back Better Act in its current form.

The president is also facing pressure from progressive lawmakers and activists to forgive unilaterally up to $50,000 in federal student debt per borrower, which proponents say would help close the racial wealth gap.