President Joe Biden has been calling for a sweeping investment into the country’s infrastructure since his days on the campaign trail. On Monday, he made a stump promise a reality, signing the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law just over a year after being elected.
While Capitol Hill is celebrating the move toward more efficient roadways, reimagined broadband, and an investment into additional projects, Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is recognizing the move as a step toward closing the racial wealth gap and delivering the Black community equitable resources. “Anytime we have an opportunity to help reduce child poverty,” Bottoms tells EBONY, “that impacts the Black community.”
Biden has been diligent about prioritizing the needs of Black people whom, the mayor points out, “are often at the last of the list when it comes to state spending and allocation.” In Atlanta, those needs include addressing crumbling sidewalks, fixing potholes in streets and taking care of bridges that are in need of repair. Bottoms says it will also address things that people don’t see everyday and don’t think about every day, as well as pour some much needed funding into the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities.
“We have Spelman, Morehouse, Morehouse School of Medicine, the Interdenominational Theological Center. We also have Morris Brown and Clark Atlanta University. So as you know, it’s the largest conglomeration of HBCUs in the country,” says Bottoms of the institutions located in her backyard. “There is a tremendous need for support of our HBCUs from a physical standpoint, and also a programmatic standpoint.”
According to the mayor, the city of Atlanta, along with other cities across the nation, are benefitting from having an administration that is in lockstep with what local leaders are doing to improve their communities. “It means so much for our cities,” she says. A rollcall of mayors present at Biden’s bill signing on Monday includes Bottoms, Randall Woodfin of Birmingham, Lori Lightfoot of Chicago, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, and Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, the mayor-president of Baton Rouge. The showing, an indication of the wide-reaching support and excitement for the plan’s particulars. Bottoms is looking forward to the day that the elation over the measure turns into real change.
“I know that there are mayors across America who joined me in keeping a list of things that need to be addressed in our communities,” Bottoms shares. “And so I know we have the projects ready to go we’ve just been waiting on the funding. That’s why this is a great day for all of us. This funding is finally coming into our city.”