Wednesday, June 30, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) gathered to publicly fortify their legislative priorities as the House enters into a district work period. U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03) led the assembly by highlighting the current development of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act (HR-4), legislation to establish a commission to study reparation proposals for African-Americans (HR40), and the status of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
Joyce Marie Beatty serves as the U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 3rd congressional district. Since 2013, she has been in that position and more recently, she became the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus in 2021.
The congresswoman opened the floor with reflection of what the Black community has overcome due to the focus and dedication led by movements and diplomacy fighting for human equality and justice. The Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus also emphasized the continual work that needs to be done.
Beatty mentioned that June 30 marks the 50th anniversary of the CBC, stating, “For 50 years, the Congressional Black Caucus has fought for and on behalf of Black people and the communities we serve. Just as freedom fighters took to the dark roads in the dead of the night to call for an end to racism, for the right to vote—we continue to stand committed to the work ahead of us.”
The Chairwoman of the CBC elaborated on the works she is overseeing within the committee and outlined topics that are looking to significantly change the quality of life within communities of color. Beatty stated, “We stand before you prepared to advocate, to speak out, and deliver—you will not ask us who we are, tonight will demonstrate to you who we are, what we stand for, and how we plan to deliver …”
The legislative priorities that were discussed during the meeting include the John Lewis Voting Rights Act (HR-4), legislation to establish a commission to study reparation proposals for African-Americans (HR40), and the status of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. However, there is a full list of focused legislation on the official Black Caucus website, open to the public.
The first three legislative priorities read as the following:
During the gathering on June 30, the CBC emphasized the work behind the John Lewis Voting Rights Act (HR4). This act would bolster voting rights by enlarging the government’s capability to respond to voting discrimination.
This hyper attention to the fairness of voting came into effect after the voting rights of 1965. It was designed to guarantee that minority voters across the country were able to participate equally in the electoral process.
Congressman James Clyburn also spoke on the matter on Wednesday. Clyburn is a retired educator serving as a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from South Carolina; he has been the House Majority Whip since 2019. As the meeting dissected the imbalance in resources that took place in the past, Rep. Clyburn called upon all of branches of government to look towards the future of this country.
Another bill highlighted during the gathering on June 30 includes the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. According to cbc.gov, this bill was designed under the collaboration of Congresswomen Karen Bass and other members of the CBC. The legislation “is a bold, comprehensive bill focused on addressing police misconduct and creating systemic changes in policing.”
The bill was brought to the public again on May 25, the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd by Minnesota police officer, Derek Chauvin. Beatty stated on that day, “Exactly one year ago, the world watched in horror as George Floyd was brutally murdered. While the former police officer responsible for his death has been convicted, that is not always the case. So, I will continue to say the names and fight for all those who have died or been injured senselessly by law enforcement,” he said.
Chair Beatty continued, “Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, Andre Hill, Casey Goodson, Jr., Ma’Khia Bryant, Tamir Rice, and George Floyd should be alive. Unfortunately, nothing will ever bring them back or undo the unimaginable heartache and loss their family, friends, and our communities have had to endure, but we can turn agony into action. The American people are demanding change, transparency, accountability, and equal justice. That is why I am calling on the Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act immediately.”
According to the press release about the bill, Rep. Clyburn stated, “The lynching of George Floyd was a moment in history that ignited a historic movement that hopefully will help redefine policing in our nation. And hopefully, the conviction of Derick Chauvin for perpetrating this inhumane act will help restore humanity and accountability in the culture of policing. My thoughts and prayers are with the Floyd family today and always for the profound loss they have suffered.”
Another part of legislation discussed was the establishment for a commission to study reparation proposals for African Americans (HR40). This was initially introduced to the House in the beginning of the year in January.
The Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act proposes a bill that will examine slavery and discrimination among African Americans from 1619 to present day and will recommend appropriate treatments.
The commission will outline the role of the federal and state government had in supporting slavery and further discrimination and identify it chronic effects imprinted on the Black community due to those social imbalances.