Did You Know About This Black Group In Congress That Preceded The Congressional Black Caucus?


Congressional Black Caucus

From 1959 to 1969, the number of Black Congressmembers more than doubled, increasing from four to ten representatives. Due to their expanded numbers, these “[m]embers recognized the fact that a black caucus in Congress would provide them with greater visibility and greater political leverage on the issues and concerns of the African-American community.” And thus on January 4, 1969, the Democratic Select Committee (DSC) was formed.

The DSC was founded by Rep. Charles Diggs from Michigan, and it hit the ground running. The group “addressed a number of issues of concern to African Americans, including investigating the killings of certain members of the Black Panther Party and boycotting President Richard Nixon’s 1970 State of the Union Address.”

Nixon ended up meeting with the DSC after bowing to pressure from the the boycott. They subsequently engaged in a robust discussion around “civil rights, Vietnam, anti-drug legislation, and welfare reform.”

Two years after the DSC’s founding, the name “was formally changed to the Congressional Black Caucus [(CBC)] following a motion by Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York in February 1971” during the 92nd Congress. And Rep Diggs became the first elected Chair of the CBC.

According to the CBC Foundation, “Shirley A. Chisholm (D-NY), William L. Clay (D-MO), George W. Collins (D-IL), John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Ronald V. Dellums (D-CA), Charles C. Diggs, Jr. (D-MI), Augustus F. Hawkins (D-CA), Ralph H. Metcalfe (D-IL), Parren J. Mitchell (D-MD), Robert N.C. Nix, Sr. (D-PA), Charles B. Rangel (D-NY), Louis Stokes (D-OH), and Washington, D.C. delegate Walter E. Fauntroy,” were the original founding members of the CBC.

Did You Know About This Black Group In Congress That Preceded The Congressional Black Caucus?

Five decades later, the CBC continues to be an advocate for the Black community at the legislative level, focusing on the concerns of our people.

Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV), the current Chairman of the CBC, told ESSENCE, “More than 50 years ago, 13 men and women sought to make America live up to its promise that we are all created equal. As our Caucus has grown to a historic 60 Members, representing more than 120 million Americans, including 20 million Black Americans, we have carried on in their tradition of fighting to dismantle barriers, create opportunities, and protect the rights Black Americans.”

“Today, as attacks on voting rights; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and democracy have become more concerted and overt, the Congressional Black Caucus stands more committed than ever to fighting back because we believe in a future worthy of the struggles of our founders – a future where everyone can thrive and reach their full potential,” Horsford added. “As such, the CBC is working to put forward a Black economic prosperity and wealth agenda to close the racial wealth gap and provide opportunities to those who have been held back for too long.”


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