The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Still No Racial Diversity at DRA Federal Level a Year into Biden administration; State Senior Officials also Almost All White

Posted on December 14, 2021 at 12:59 PM

There has been no progress regarding the lack of diversity at the Delta Regional Authority.

If the lack of diversity continues, we are planning a news conference by Zoom in early January to increase the pressure on the administration to act.

All seven of the seven Presidential appointees in the agency’s 20-year history have been white, and currently 10 of the 11 state designees and alternates appointed by the governors are white.

Highly qualified African American leaders in the region have been recommended to the White House as Federal Co-Chair by Members of Congress, private sector groups like the Delta Caucus and others for a year now, with no response.

It is time to call on the Biden administration to stop neglecting this matter. The governors should act as well at the state level.

This is a travesty for a highly diverse region with a large African American population as well as other smaller minorities. One of the major reasons for the creation of the DRA was to address issues of racial justice and diversity.

Please look at the DRA website at and you will see in the senior positions 19 white people and one African American person. What is wrong with this picture?

The DRA budget continues to be seriously under-funded at about $28 million for an 8-state region with a population of over 10 million people. The Appalachian Regional Commission’s backers are currently backing an increase in the already much larger ARC budget up to $235 million. Delta advocates should advocate for an increase at least to $150 million, which factors in decades of being drastically under-funded.

Yes, this is likely an oversight and a lack of attention to the Delta region and we are not making any allegation of intentional racial bias, but that is no excuse in 2021 to still have a lack of diversity, not to mention the small budget.

However, there are those in our coalition who believe that in many of the governor’s offices there are those who do not want diversity, although they would not say so publicly. And as for the Biden administration, neglect is no excuse: there should have been a well-qualified African American appointee months ago.

In the past, the only reason we succeeded in creating the DRA and at least getting the budget up from the tiny $5 million of the early 2000s to $28 million was by forcefully pressuring the state and federal and state powers that be for action ASAP, including media coverage.

All our experience tells us that there will be no meaningful action if the request is phrased in quiet, sweet terms like “I hate to bother you and know how busy you are, Governor or Member of Congress or White House official, but if you don’t mind could we see some action for diversity, if it won’t inconvenience you.”

The governors, White House, Members of Congress–with a few exceptions like Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi who has also called for action on these issues–have ignored our repeated calls for action over the past year. This is part of the response to the economic and other damage inflicted by the pandemic, so the old excuse about being busy “with more important matters” will not fly.

The Biden administration claims to have a policy of concern for lower to middle income people who make up the great majority of our region and the country, but they need to back up their claims with action.

We plan a news conference in Little Rock as the Capitol city of one of our key Delta states in early to mid-January to call attention to this problem if there is still no action by then. We may also plan a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC if the indifference continues.

We again commend Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas for being the only high-level official in a position to make appointments to either DRA or state senior posts who has paid any attention to the steady stream of calls for racial diversity at the DRA. Gov. Hutchinson earlier this year appointed a well-qualified African American, Ateca Foreman, to one of the two state DRA posts. Everyone else has been asleep at the switch.

Only calls for action from constituents and concerned citizens will prompt action. Please call, email or otherwise communicate with your Members of Congress, governors’ offices, or call the White House switchboard at 202-456-1414 and ask for the White House Office of Presidential Personnel.

These forms of communications have been done all year and while we never give up, we will have to resort to the more forceful call for action at news conferences by Zoom in early January.

As we have said on numerous occasions previously, that was good that the Biden administration named Leslie Durham of Louisiana as Alternate Federal Co-Chairman. Unfortunately that did not address the lack of racial diversity.