/  03.05.2022

Hank Johnson, a Representative from Georgia’s 4th District, is calling attention to the disproportionate amount of advertising dollars the federal government has spent with Black-owned media and advertising firms. 

On Friday (March 4), the congressman took to Twitter to discuss the racial inadequacies and share his letter to President Biden requesting his administration address them. 

Johnson directed his tweets initially to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. 

“Over a 5 year period, the federal government spent more than $5 billion on advertising but Black-owned businesses received only $51 million, or 1.02% of those funds,” Johnson tweeted. “The failure of the federal government to spend #COVID19 advertising dollars with Black-owned media and advertising firms is simply the continuation of a problem that has existed for decades.”

“I have called on the @POTUS Biden Administration to address the lack of federal advertising with Black-owned media and advertising firms, and investigate the entire process that allocates these contracts,” Johnson added.

He attached a letter that he sent to the president, which states “we want to bring to your attention the major failings of many federal departments and agencies to do business with Black-owned media and advertising firms.” 

The letter essentially points out that not spending advertising funds with Black-owned media resulted in a missed opportunity to make the Black community comfortable with getting the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“As you know there has been a great deal of reluctance and concern within the Black community about getting the COVID-19 vaccination,” the letter states. “Educating our communities should have been a very high priority of that advertising program … We appreciate that your administration met its leaders in Black-owned media to discuss this topic in early 2021, however we are not aware of any action that resulted from this meeting and the problem continues to undermine Black-owned businesses. Therefore, we are requesting that you reinstate President Clinton’s Executive Order 13170 and conduct an audit of contracts funded by COVID-19 response legislation.”

“The federal government spends billions of dollars a year in paid advertising. However, the federal government’s process for allocating advertising dollars fails to recognize and value the unique relationship that Black-owned media have with their audiences,” the letter continues. 

A total of 34 members of Congress signed the letter, which was co-led by Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13) and Representative Val Demings (FL-10). The entire Georgia Democratic delegation signed it as well as many members of the Congressional Black Caucus

Read the full letter below: 

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