by Stacy M. Brown
Special to the NNPA from the Washington Informer
From Trayvon Martin to Michael Brown and from civil rights to voting rights, the Congressional Black Caucus has been confronted with a litany of challenges over the past couple of years.
However, members of the proud 43-year-old caucus (CBC) will soon be faced with what several are referring to as its most daunting challenge: selecting a successor to its chair, Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio).
“Marcia Fudge has been an excellent leader. We all know that we at some point have to pass the baton,” said Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), a high-ranking member of the CBC who also serves as board chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF).
Every two years, the CBC elects a new chair and Fattah said Fudge has done an exemplary job and members will continue to lean upon her for assistance.
“First and foremost, we will make sure that she’ll continue to have an opportunity to lead,” said Fattah, 57. “There will be a new chair after the November elections and I’m sure that we will find a competent member from among us.”
Fattah said he doesn’t know who might be selected or who will be considered. However, he speculated that among the contenders could be Rep. Robin Kelly of Illinois, Rep. Steve Horsford of Nevada or Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York.
“There are some younger members like Kelly, Horsford and Jeffries and then there are also some of the names that have been around forever,” Fattah said. “We have a very strong base and we can be sure that, for the rest of our lives, there will be competent leadership.”
Fattah said the biggest challenges for the CBC can easily be discerned simply by understanding obstacles facing black communities around the country.
“The disparities that exist are our challenges,” he said.
In distinguishing his role as a congressman and member of the CBC from his job with the CBCF, Fattah said the CBC counts as a powerful political caucus which seeks to legislate in Congress. The foundation stands as a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy, research and educational institution that seek to aide advances in the global black community through leadership cultivation, community education and civic engagement.
“The foundation is an entity that focuses on preparing the next generation to work on the Hill so that they can gain experience,” Fattah said. “Between the work of the caucus and the foundation, there is an extraordinary movement going on to bridge the disparities that communities of color face.”
He said the CBC and the CBCF have been at the forefront of calling attention to and seeking justice for blacks and other minorities, including reinstating the original Voting Rights Act and remaining vigilant about civil rights.
When Martin, an unarmed black Florida teenager, died in 2012 after being shot by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, both the CBC and the foundation called on the federal government to investigate.
Earlier this year, when Brown, another unarmed black teen died after being shot multiple times by a police officer in Ferguson, Illinois, both entities worked closely with President Barack Obama’s administration to seek federal remedies in the ongoing case that’s led to riots, looting and an untold amount of damage to the heavily black populated community in the St. Louis suburbs.