In his final State of the Union address President Barack Obama announced that he would continue to focus on criminal justice reform during the final year of his presidency. Those efforts saw Obama make history over the summer when he became the first sitting president to visit a federal prison, where he met with a group of prisoners. He reduced the sentences of 95 prisoners in December as a part of his pursuit for a, "criminal justice system that is more fair, more even-handed, more proportionate, and is smarter about how we reduce crime" said Obama in a statement. For his next step Obama will meet Black Lives Matter activists and civil rights leaders to discuss criminal justice reform and other topics.
Buzzfeed News reports the meeting will take place on Thursday before a Black History Month reception that President Obama and First Lady Michelle will attend in addition to Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
A White House official told Buzzfeed News in an email:
"On Thursday afternoon, President Obama will meet with a group of civil rights leaders prior to the annual White House Black History Month reception to discuss a range of issues including the Administration's efforts on criminal justice reform, building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve and the president’s priorities during his final year in office."
The meeting will see both Al Sharpton and Black Lives Matter activist Deray Mckesson, currently in the running for mayor of Baltimore, among many others.
Obama has previously defended the use of "Black Lives Matter" explaining the crucial difference between that and "All Lives Matter." He explained, "I think the reason that the organizers used the phrase black lives matter, was not because they were suggesting nobody elses lives matter, rather what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that is happening in the African American community that is not happening in other communities, and that is a legitimate issue we have got to address."
Obama would later add: