Benjamin Jealous, president of the NAACP, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, spoke to the media yesterday after meeting with President Obama. (Larry Downing/Reuters)

*President Obama promised civil rights leaders on Wednesday to push hard and work with Congress to address the high unemployment rate, particularly among the urban and rural poor.

But Mr. Obama and the three other black men who met with him for more than an hour in the Oval Office did not focus on programs for African-Americans or limit their talks to issues of concern primarily to blacks, participants said.

Instead, the group – which included Benjamin T. Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Marc H. Morial, president of the National Urban League; and the Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network – discussed how the economic crisis was affecting all manner of poor people.

“In these times, it didn’t make sense to talk about race-based initiatives,” Mr. Jealous said in an interview after the meeting. “It made more sense to target poor areas.” He added, “When you’re on the ground, the poor black community is the same as the poor white community.”

For MORE of this NY Times report by Helene Cooper, go HERE.