Forty years ago, 13 black House lawmakers banded together to form the Congressional Black Caucus. During that time, there have been some incredible highs, such as chairmanships of several powerful committees and subcommittees in the last two sessions. And there have been some terrible lows, including the fall from grace of founding member, Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, last year because of ethics violations. But like Rangel, who continues to roll through the House, the epitome of sartorial style and as self-confident as ever, the CBC is nothing if not resilient.
Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn, a member of the class of 1992 that greatly expanded the caucus’s numbers and added a little bit of country to the group’s largely urban mix, fought for a leadership position when Democrats lost the House in the mid-term elections. And his CBC colleagues let it be known they would withhold support for others seeking leadership positions, unless their brother was assured a seat at the table.
On the occasion of the CBC’s 40th anniversary, he said, “As we look ahead, I hope the CBC will continue to advocate for equality and opportunity in America, especially in persistent poverty communities—areas of the country that have been left behind in times of growth and recovery.”
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, CBC chairman and a member of the class of 2004, said that the CBC is committed to defending and ensuring equal access to healthcare and education. “Some still ask if the Congressional Black Caucus is needed,” he said. “To that I simply say there is still more work to be done to make the promise of this great nation, the practice.”
(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)