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Atlanta Fed president continues his call for, ‘A Moral and Economic Imperative to End Racism’

Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic was singled out by the Senate Banking Committee for ideas expressed in his 2020 essay, 'A Moral and Economic Imperative to End Racism.' Credit: Credit: Sadat Karim via Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

By David Pendered

Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic on Tuesday continued his forceful call for an end of structural racism for reasons he sees as moral and economic.

Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic on Tuesday continued his call for an end to systemic racism for reasons he described in his paper, ‘A Moral and Economic Imperative to End Racism.’ Credit: Credit: Sadat Karim via Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

“We have to acknowledge that history [of systemic racism] and think about what that implies for people who are living today, and what sort of things we might want to do differently to acknowledge that some people have been differently impacted by things – and that, actually, is not fair,” Bostic said.

Bostic was asked frequently to offer his thoughts during a virtual roundtable, Race, Mobility and Fairness in the U.S. Economy. The 66-minute conversation was hosted by the National Association for Business Economics.

Bostic served with panelists including Neel Kashkari, president of the Minneapolis Fed. Both men have been vocal in calling attention to racial and structural inequities in the financial system. Kashkari established the Opportunity & Inclusive Growth Institute, in 2017, to develop research that he intends to enable the Fed and other policymaking bodies to, “increase economic opportunity and inclusive growth for all Americans.”

Bostic occupies rare space in the hierarchy of the nation’s central bank.

Margaret Mitchell House, Atlanta Fed

Side by side, the Margaret Mitchell House (foreground0 and Atlanta Fed (background) represent different eras in the South. Peggy Mitchell, author of ‘Gone with the Wind,’ resided in the house; Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic wants the central bank to set a new course for economic equality and fairness. Credit: Kelly Jordan

Bostic is the only Black Fed president and CEO. The Federal Reserve’s Sixth District is based in Atlanta, widely viewed as cradle of the civil rights movement. The district encompasses the nation’s deep roots of slavery in a region that includes Alabama, Florida and Georgia, and portions of Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Bostic stepped forward June 12 with a statement on social justice that remains ahead of Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s public position.

The paper, A Moral and Economic Imperative to End Racism. By Raphael Bostic, President and CEO, presents Bostic’s personal views and concludes with three actions he contends are within the scope of the Atlanta Fed and have the ability to, “reduce racial inequities and bring about a more inclusive economy.”

The three measures are: Use monetary policy to improve the economy and stability of the nation’s financial system; promote maximum employment by educating stakeholders; and have the Atlanta Fed become a more inclusive workplace, to serve as an example of best practices.

The economic imperative came after Bostic described the moral imperative. The segment on the moral imperative begins:

  • “As I have observed the protests against police brutality over the past few weeks, I have shared in the outrage of the truly horrific events that brought us to this point. My first thoughts are for those who lost their lives and those suffering through these events in very real ways, and I stand with all those peacefully protesting for change.”

Bostic’s work continues:

NABE, Bostic, panel 6:30:2020

Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic (center, top) was asked to speak frequently during a virtual roundtable discussion hosted Tuesday by NABE on the subject, ‘Race, Mobility and Fairness in the U.S. Economy.’ Credit: nabe.com

  • “By limiting economic and educational opportunities for a large number of Americans, institutionalized racism constrains this country’s economic potential….
  • “This country has both a moral and economic imperative to end these unjust and destructive practices….

The transition from moral imperative to economic imperative observes:

  • “A commitment to an inclusive society also means a commitment to an inclusive economy. Such an economy would represent a rebuke of systemic racism and other exclusionary structures. It would represent a true embrace of the principles that all are created equal and should enjoy unburdened life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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