He looks forward to amplifying the voice of the Black community!
Stephen Benjamin was born in Queens, New York, later relocating to his family’s hometown of South Carolina where he attended college, The Grio reports. Benjamin made a name for himself in the state, making history as the first Black mayor of Columbia, South Carolina where he served for 12 years. Now Benjamin has stepped into a new role, taking over for former Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms as the new director of the Office of Public engagement. He acts as a senior advisor to President Joe Biden and is now the Black man with the highest ranking position in the White House, something he doesn’t take for granted.
“I enjoy this role in the White House. Every single day really has been a blessing…I quickly learned that inside the Beltway is a whole different animal. It’s been a month, but in dog years in D.C., you feel like you’ve been there for about a year or two already,” said Benjamin.
In his new role, Benjamin serves as the liaison between the community and the Biden-Harris administration. It’s his job to amplify the good that the administration is doing for local communities, specifically Black communities, but Benjamin says even he underestimated “the number of serious issues that come before us every single day.” Benjamin says he makes it his mission for the White House to “listen twice as much as you talk.”
Benjamin aims to highlight the transformative work being done by the Biden-Harris administration, like the infrastructure law to address the impact of racist redlining on Black communities, the CHIPS and Science Act which will invest billions into American manufacturing and bringing back jobs, the record number of Black female judges and strategic job creation which has “led to the lowest African American unemployment rate in history.” But he also understands that it’s a process, and he wants to let communities, and specifically Black men who look like him know that it’s a process.
“Some of our challenges are still downright systemic and real. Some of these challenges are unique when it comes to Black men – it’s something we have to talk about…[Black Americans have to] give a really serious and fair look at the successes of the administration…realizing that on this journey towards being a more perfect union, there’s so much more work to do,” Benjamin explained.
That’s why he’s working with other Black male leaders like NAACP President Derrick Johnson, Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison and Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Steve Horsford to see how they can collectively “lift up the voices of Black men.” He wants the community to know that he’s going to tell the story of what the White House is doing, but he also is encouraging citizens “to make sure they share with us exactly what they’re dealing with [and] the challenges they’re facing.”
Together, Benjamin feels like we truly can make a difference and he’s excited to work with other public servants at the White House to make it happen. He understands his position as the highest ranking Black man in the White House and he’s committed to doing all he can to really make a difference.
“If, in fact, we give this president and vice president the opportunity to finish the job and at the same time give them the tools that they need in terms of additional help in the Congress to move some of these really tough bills forward, we can do it…The president’s going to continue to lead…and continue to push on the things that matter most that address the soul of this country. And I’m excited about being a part of it,” said Benjamin.
Cover photo: Former South Carolina mayor now holds the highest ranking position in the White House/Photo Courtesy of Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images/K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers