The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has unveiled its policy priorities and plan of action, one that will focus on securing equality, equity and equal justice for the country’s 43 million Black Americans during this critical juncture in U.S. history.
The CBC, which has a record 58 members in the current 117th Congress, has established a new Domestic Policy Leadership Team, and more than a dozen internal Policy Councils. Lawmakers will work in tandem to tackle a host of pressing issues, including health care and Covid-19, policing, social justice, education, poverty, criminal justice reform and more.
“We’re not going to be silent,” Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH), chair of the CBC, told ESSENCE. “We are in an historic time, and the Congressional Black Caucus is uniquely poised to advance an agenda for Black people and the communities we serve.”
The initiatives were announced during a special hearing, “Living Black History and Building On Our Past: the CBC 100 Day Plan,” held Wednesday on Capitol Hill. Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV), 1st Vice-Chair of the caucus, and 2nd Vice- Chair, Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) joined the convening, streamed live on social media.
As envisioned, the CBC Domestic Policy Leadership Team, in conjunction with the Policy Co-Chairs, will engage with the Biden-Harris Administration and U.S Senate to build strong and inclusive domestic policy, budget priorities and programs which directly address the needs and concerns of Black America.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) will co-chair the Domestic Policy Leadership Team, while both veteran lawmakers and new members alike will bring their voices and insight to the efforts.
“I know the entire team is excited and ready to hit the ground running,”said Beatty, who indicated the CBC will host town halls, briefings, and policy papers in the coming weeks, using the theme, “Our Power, Our Message.”
Founded in 1971 by 13 pioneering elected officials–among them, Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman in congress– the caucus (the largest in Congress) marks its 50th anniversary this year.
The group is intergenerational, geographically diverse and represents a mix of constituents of all races who are rural, urban, and suburban. CBC members bring a wealth of backgrounds and professions to the legislative process. They are lawyers, educators, nurses, military veterans, corporate executives, business owners, law enforcement, civil servants and more.
“We have a wealth of knowledge,” Beatty said of members, more than half of whom are Black women. “We lead in the name of Shirley Chisholm, Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman and all our ancestors.”
In addition to the policy roll-out, the CBC premiered a video recognizing and reflecting on members’ work over the decades. You can watch it here.
“I hope when people see us,” said Beatty of the CBC, “they know we’re fighting for us.”