The importance of Social Security to the Black Community could not have been clearer in Richmond, VA on Tuesday — at the National Committee’s first town hall of a new public education campaign, “Social Security: Here Today, Here Tomorrow.”  The town hall was sponsored by AARP Virginia.

Watch a recorded video stream of the entire Richmond event here.

Some 80 Richmond residents and AARP volunteers filled the Black History Museum & Cultural Center for an evening of Social Security-themed games and a public forum/Q&A.  Representatives of the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the office of U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman were on hand to answer questions about attendees’ earned benefits.

The town hall was moderated by WTVR-TV (CBS 6) anchor, Reba Hollingsworth, with panelists including former Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin, NCPSSM President & CEO Max Ricthman, and financial advisor Brandon Byerson.

Social Security Plinko — a fun way to learn about a program of special importance to Black Americans

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney opened the public forum with an impassioned testimonial about being raised by his grandmother, who was a Social Security beneficiary. “Black individuals rely more on Social Security than other demographics, and my grandmother’s story is a great example of that,” Stoney said. “It truly was our lifeline.”  Without Social Security, some 50% of Black Americans would be living in poverty.

Mayor Levar Stoney kicks-off the Richmond town hall, 6/27/23

Commissioner Colvin, who ran the Social Security program during the Obama administration, explained that Black workers especially depend on Social Security because of historically lower wages and dwindling employer-provided pensions. “If you’re dealing with struggling to put food on the table and pay your bills or to deal with health issues, you don’t have money to save towards your retirement,” Colvin said.

National Committee President Max Richtman focused on busting Social Security myths that can undermine public support for the program. “Social Security is not going bankrupt. It will be there for future generations if Congress takes responsible action. And politicians are not ‘stealing from Social Security,’ Richtman pointed out.

He also debunked conservative propaganda that Social Security is a bad deal for younger adults — not only because they will need their retirement benefits even more than current seniors do – but because the average 27 year-old with a spouse and two children already has more than $800,000 worth of insurance coverage from Social Security.

“People think of Social Security as only being for seniors, but let’s remember that it provides life, disability, spousal and survivor’s insurance for Americans of all ages — including millions of children,” said Richtman.

NCPSSM President Max Richtman & Fmr. Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin

The “Social Security: Here Today, Here Tomorrow” campaign is focused on near retirees (people who are not yet eligible for Social Security but will be soon.) As the Richmond-Times Dispatch reported, attendee Michele Rodrigues came to the event to learn more about Social Security before she becomes eligible for benefits:::

Rodrigues got set back financially after losing her job. She said she wants to be ready for a decision on claiming Social Security before she turns 62, the earliest age one can collect retirement benefits.  “It’s critical for my retirement,” Rodrigues said. – Gabriela DeCamargo Goncalves, Richmond Times Dispatch, 6/29/23

The public education campaign rolls onward with town halls this summer and early fall in Philadelphia, PA (7/26/23), Lansing, MI (8/28/23), Milwaukee, WI (September TBD), and Las Vegas, NV (October TBD).  Visit for registration information. Those unable to attend the free town halls in person will be able to watch live video streams of the events.

“We look forward to taking the campaign to these other cities, spreading the word that Social Security is crucial for all Americans — and that it’s so important for workers to understand the program before they become eligible,” says Richtman. “Most of all, we want them to know that Social Security remains strong, and that with action from Congress to enhance the program’s finances and improve benefits, it definitely will be there for them when they need it.”

Watch the “Social Security: Here Today, Here Tomorrow” video here.