As part of this week’s Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference in the nation’s capital, the House Administration Committee will release a new book, “Black Americans in Congress: 1870 – 2007.” The book is the most comprehensive study on the lives of the 121 Black Americans who have served in Congress. The book was written with guidance from the Library of Congress in tracking descendants of Members to research their backgrounds and extend an invitation to them to participate in the book’s launch.
The emergence of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), with 43 Members currently, is one of the most significant developments in American political history. From its beginnings with a handful of Black Americans serving in the House of Representatives, the Caucus has grown into a political heavyweight with significant influence over public policy development in Congress. With its roots dating back to the post-Civil War era, the Caucus’ growth was fueled by the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the creation of majority Black Congressional districts in southern states and in northern cities where there was a significant Black population.
Over time, through the seniority system in Congress, CBC members have risen to lead some of the most important committees in Congress; including Rep. John Conyers as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Charles Rangel leading the Committee on Ways & Means and the retired Rep. Bill Gray, who rose through the ranks to chair the House Budget Committee. In addition, through the years the CBC has had stellar members such as the late Reps. Mickey Leland and Barbara Jordan of Texas, Parren J. Mitchell of Maryland, Shirley Chisholm of New York, and Augustus Hawkins of California, and leaders such as William Clay of Missouri, Andrew Young of Georgia, and Charles C. Diggs, Jr. of Michigan.
The book will be unveiled Wednesday September 24 at 12:30 p.m. in the Cannon Caucus Room which is 345 Cannon House Office Building.