Congressional Black Caucus: Black History Month about ‘speaking truth to power’

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) kicked off Black History Month with a promise to address persistent challenges facing Black Americans despite the successes the community has seen over the decades.

“During Black History Month, we celebrate generations of Black Americans whose courage, advocacy, sacrifice, and patriotism have moved our country and the world forward,” the caucus, which is chaired by Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.), said in a statement Thursday. “We use this time to honor those who came before us, and to recommit ourselves to creating a future worthy of their struggle.”

The CBC, known by members as the “conscience of the Congress,” is celebrating its largest membership since its inception in 1971.

With 60 members, the caucus said it represents more than a third of the U.S. population, including more than 20 million Black Americans.

In its statement honoring Black History Month, the caucus promised to “continue every day to fight to dismantle barriers, create opportunities, and protect the rights of Black Americans because we believe in a future where everyone can thrive and achieve their full potential.”

To do that, it said, means to address the current political storm surrounding racial equity agendas.

“Honoring Black history is also about speaking truth to power,” the group said. “Access to the ballot box, fair representation, DEI initiatives, and the right for Black women to make their own reproductive healthcare choices are under threat.”

The CBC has been outspoken the last two election cycles about efforts to limit voting rights, including what it calls attacks on the Voting Rights Act, and has vowed to fight for the passage of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

But since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the right to abortion, the caucus has also pushed to expand reproductive rights for women, noting that Black Americans in particular face higher rates of maternal and infant mortality than white Americans.

Lately, its focus has grown to include pushing back against efforts to limit diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Many against such initiatives declare the policies are “divisive,” though proponents for the programs argue that they help lead to equitable treatment in jobs and education.

“We must all recognize and push back against efforts to impede progress, erase our history, and cut off access to capital and better opportunities,” the CBC said.

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