December 28, 2008

Will Congressional Black Caucus Be Relevant Next Year?


A number of villagers have been talking about the relevance and potency of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) in 2009 and beyond. I think that everyone recognizes that they have not been relevant for many years. Whether it was because of the Republican dominance of congress and the White House or simply a dearth of energy and ideas ... it seems unlikely that much would be different over the past generation if the CBC never existed.

For those that don't know, the original purpose of the CBC was '...to promote the public welfare through legislation designed to meet the needs of millions of neglected citizens'.

The CBC agenda in 2008 focused on:
  1. Empower and Mobilize America's Youth
  2. Build an International Internet Communications Portal
  3. CBC Outreach Program
  4. Impact the Alternative Energy Discussion
Now we enter into a new year ... Democratic dominance of the Senate and the House of Representatives ... Black man serving as our president ... and new leadership for the CBC. Will the CBC be relevant in the 111th Congress?

CBC Members elected to leadership posts include:
Chairwoman-elect Barbara Lee remarked, “The 111th Congress will not only present unique and difficult challenges, but also historic opportunities for our caucus. I look forward to working with all of our CBC members to craft and implement a unified and bold agenda for the 111th Congress.”

I suppose what villagers want to know at this point ... what is that bold agenda for 2009-2010? Will the CBC avoid getting into a battle with Obama? Do you have any thoughts on the CBC agenda?

12 comments:

Revvy Rev said...

There certainly is a need for a relevant CBC. There is still glaring structural racial inequality particularly in housing, income,wealth, the criminal justice system and in education.

The words "poor" or "marginalized" has been conspicuously absent from public dialog and conversation. As you stated, the original purpose of the CBC is to promote legislation which protects the interests of the neglected, therefore a policy agenda should be developed to do just that.

MacDaddy said...

They are a group that Obama can ignore, as he has ignored many black folks in his campaign. After all, they haven't done anythingl

Villager said...

Revvy Rev - No doubt there is a need for a relevant CBC. My question is whether or not the current CBC leadership is up to the challenge (opportunity)? Do you have any evidence that they will deal proactively with the issues of the poor in our community? Or will they simply be good for an annual CBC dinner in DC?

MacDaddy - I agree that the CBC hasn't been active or relevant in any meaningful way. I'm intrigued by your comment "...as he (Obama) has ignored many Black folks in his campaign." Can you give examples of how you feel he "ignored" Black folks?

MacDaddy said...

Yes, in his final drive for the presidency, he focused on voters that Hillary said he couldn't win, the blue collar voters in places like Indiana and Pennsylvania. Many of these voters were ethnics who, historically, been disinclined to vote for black voters.

A second example are urban agenda issues: poverty, crime, violence, guns, racial profiling--issues that art utmost in the minds of blacks living in the inner-city. Instead, he has talked about the "middle class." Some would argue that he had to do this to become president. Maybe so. Nonetheless, those which are utmost in the black community were substituted for those most immediate to the middle class wanted: tax breaks, better healthcare, and helping to get their precious daughters into college.You never heard a word about the poor.

Iya said...

I think the CBC will be as relevant as we insist they be. One of the problems is that most of us do not even know who makes up the membership of the CBC are. We can criticize (or praise)the group on, say, a blog, but how many of us have written letters or emailed them with petitions or even thoughts of actions we think they should be takingor praise for actions they took that we agreed with???

MacDaddy, I disagree that Preident-elect Obama "ignored many black folks in his campaign." I find Mr, Obama to be a thoughtful, even briliant person...has to be to have
gotten this close to the Presidency. One of his gfits has been his ability to surround himself wth excellence. The frame does not see to be based on race, but on the superior qualifications
of each person.
We are going to have to stop this notion of what can be done for Blacks, and in the state we are all in, concentrate on what can be done for this nation. I think the Father has sent us someone who will
be able to bring us all together, who sees the big picture and who govern with vision and wisdom. He happens to be Black. Let's see him for the role model that he certainly is. Let each us of us do what we can where we can when we can to get our nation to where we want it to be.

RiPPa said...

I don't think Obama's presidency will change or elevate their focus anymore than it already exists.

I have to agree that Obama did "ignore" the Black vote. Lets be honest: he never pandered to Black voters nor spoke directly to the needs of the Black community as he did other voting Blocks...like Latinos or AIPAC (Jews) for example.

If anything, the real player is the next Attorney General. I believe he'll be held accountable (or should be) by the CBC which may make things happen.

plez... said...

the first thing the CBC needs to do is look at the 2008 agenda and see how many of those items they actually accomplished.

second, i would look at the CBC agenda for the past 20 years and see how many of those items were actually accomplished.

based on how well they did against their 2008 objectives, i'm thinking their success rate is hovering around ZERO percent!

the third significant thing they could do is make plans to disband that merry bunch, re-join the congressional delegation for their respective states, and begin to effect change for the people who elected them to Congress... instead of carrying the banner for some nebulous group of "neglected" citizens!

i want my Black congressman (rep. hank johnson) bringing home the bacon to his "neglected" constituents in the fourth congressional district of Georgia, instead of standing around with some belly-achin' representatives blathering about their failed CBC Outreach Program!

Villager said...

MacDaddy - Thank you for sharing your perspective on Obama as it relates to Black folks ... specifically poor Black folks. The campaign is over. Now we see if he governs in a manner that supports the Black community (as we are part of the American community). Is there a specific program that you would like to see added or expanded in the Obama administration? Is it a program that CBC currently supports or talks about?

Villager said...

Iya - Your point is well-taken. I don't have a CBC member as my represnetative here in Ohio. As such, I've never had reason to personally reach out to them in anger, disappointment or praise. Plez suggests that the CBC is not necessary or relevant. He would prefer that they focus on their local constituents as opposed to a national constituency of 'Black people'. Any thoughts on his contention?

Villager said...

Plez - In theory, the 40 or so CBC members can achieve more for their local constituents by working together than they could working individually. The theory only works if the CBC chooses causes and legislation that is relevant and in alignment on both a local ... and national ... level. Their agenda over the past years hasn't done that. Will they be more focused and relevant in 2009 now that Obama is coming into office? The jury is still out.

Villager said...

All - I wonder how CBC will react to Roland Burris appointment...

Fige Bornu said...

It is our fault that we allow the CBC to sit on their hands while Black men populate prisons and our children dodge bullets.

It is a disgrace. Thus, the CBC cannot and should not be looked upon as a source for any serious remedy.

Fige Bornu, Chairman
Positive African Image Institute