As the number of African Americans serving in Congress grew, a long-desired movement to form a more unified organization among black legislators coalesced. When Charles C. Diggs, Jr., of Michigan entered the House of Representatives in 1955, he joined black Members William Dawson of Illinois and Adam Clayton Powell—the largest delegation of African Americans on Capitol Hill since Reconstruction. “In Congress, there was little, if any communication between Dawson and Powell,” Diggs noted. “Their styles were different. In terms of exercise between them, there was not any.” Diggs keenly felt the isolation endured by black Members due to their small numbers in Congress and, in some cases, an inability to connect on a personal level. Frustrated that black Representatives lacked a forum to discuss common concerns and issues, Diggs proposed the organization of the Democratic Select Committee (DSC) at the opening of the 91st Congress (1969–1971), maintaining that the DSC would fill a significant void by fostering the exchange of information among the nine African Americans serving in Congress, as well as between black Representatives and House leadership. “The sooner we get organized for group action, the more effective we can become,” Diggs remarked. The informal group held sporadic meetings that were mainly social gatherings and had no independent staff or budget.
Newly elected Members and beneficiaries of court-ordered redistricting, William (Bill) Clay, Sr., of Missouri, Louis Stokes of Ohio, and Shirley Chisholm embraced the concept of a group for black legislators to “seize the moment, to fight for justice, to raise issues too long ignored and too little debated”—all of which quickly translated into a more influential association for African-American Members.
Congressional Black Congress
Since its establishment in 1971, Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have joined together to empower America’s neglected citizens and to address their legislative concerns.For more than 40 years, the CBC has consistently been the voice for people of color and vulnerable communities in Congress and has been committed to utilizing the full Constitutional power, statutory authority, and financial resources of the Government of the United States of America to ensure that everyone in the United States has an opportunity to achieve their version of the American Dream.
The legislative agenda of universal empowerment that Members of the Congressional Black Caucus collectively pursue include but are not limited to: the creation of universal access to a world-class education from birth through post secondary level; the creation of universal access to quality, affordable health care and the elimination of racially based health disparities; the creation of universal access to modern technology, capital and full, fairly-compensated employment; the creation and or expansion of U.S. foreign policy initiatives that will contribute to the survival, health, education and general welfare of all peoples of the world in a manner consistent with universal human dignity, tolerance and respect and such other legislative action as a majority of the entire CBC Membership may support.
For more: http://cbc.fudge.house.gov