Founding members were Shirley Chisholm, William L. Clay Sr., George W. Collins, John Conyers, Ronald Dellums, Augustus F. Hawkins, Ralph Metcalfe, Parren Mitchell, Robert Nix, Charles Rangel, Louis Stokes, and Washington D.C. Delegate Walter Fauntroy. The first chairman Charles Diggs, from 1969 to 1971, landed on the master list of Nixon political opponents for his chairmanship.
The CBC encapsulates these goals in the following priorities: Closing the achievement and opportunity gaps in education, assuring quality health care for every American, focusing on employment and economic security, ensuring justice for all, retirement security for all Americans, and increasing equity in foreign policy.
Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Tx., has said:
"The Congressional Black Caucus is one of the world's most esteemed bodies, with a history of positive activism unparalleled in our nation's history. Whether the issue is popular or unpopular, simple or complex, the CBC has fought for thirty years to protect the fundamentals of democracy. Its impact is recognized throughout the world. The Congressional Black Caucus is probably the closest group of legislators on the Hill. We work together almost incessantly, we are friends and, more importantly, a family of freedom fighters. Our diversity makes us stronger, and the expertise of all of our members has helped us be effective beyond our numbers."
The Caucus is officially non-partisan, but in practice it has been closely identified with the Democratic Party, and tends to function as a lobbying group within the wider Democratic Party. Only four black Republicans have been elected to Congress since the Caucus was founded: Senator Edward W. Brooke of Massachusetts, Representative Gary Franks of Connecticut, Delegate Melvin H. Evans of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Representative J. C. Watts of Oklahoma, who became the first black member of Congress elected not to join the group because of its closely Democratic affiliation and goals. Representative Watts said of his refusal to join the caucus, "...they said that I had sold out and Uncle Tom. And I said well, they deserve to have that view. But I have my thoughts. And I think they're race-hustling poverty pimps." White members of Congress have never been welcomed into the caucus (see White Membership below).
The Caucus has grown steadily as more black members have been elected. In 1969 the Caucus had nine members. As of 2008 it had 43 members, including two who are non-voting members of the House, representing the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Currently, Illinois Senator Barack Obama is the only black member of the U.S. Senate.
"Quite simply, Rep. Cohen will have to accept what the rest of the country will have to accept - there has been an unofficial Congressional White Caucus for over 200 years, and now it's our turn to say who can join 'the club.' He does not, and cannot, meet the membership criteria, unless he can change his skin color. Primarily, we are concerned with the needs and concerns of the black population, and we will not allow white America to infringe on those objectives.On January 25, 2007, Representative Tom Tancredo, R-Co., spoke out against the continued existence of the CBC as well as the Democratic Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Republican Congressional Hispanic Conference saying, "It is utterly hypocritical for Congress to extol the virtues of a color-blind society while officially sanctioning caucuses that are based solely on race. If we are serious about achieving the goal of a colorblind society, Congress should lead by example and end these divisive, race-based caucuses.
|House of Representatives|
|Representative||Party||State - Congressional District|
|Sanford Bishop||Democratic||Georgia - 2nd|
|Corrine Brown||Democratic||Florida - 3rd|
|G. K. Butterfield||Democratic||North Carolina - 1st|
|Andre Carson||Democratic||Indiana - 7th|
|Delegate Donna Christian-Christensen||Democratic|| U.S. Virgin Islands - At-large |
(non voting congressional delegate)
|Yvette Clarke||Democratic||New York - 11th|
|William Lacy Clay, Jr.||Democratic||Missouri - 1st|
|Emanuel Cleaver - 2nd Vice Chair||Democratic||Missouri - 5th|
|Jim Clyburn||Democratic||South Carolina - 6th|
|John Conyers, Jr. - Dean||Democratic||Michigan - 14th|
|Elijah Cummings||Democratic||Maryland - 7th|
|Artur Davis||Democratic||Alabama - 7th|
|Danny K. Davis - Secretary||Democratic||Illinois - 7th|
|Keith Ellison||Democratic||Minnesota - 5th|
|Chaka Fattah||Democratic||Pennsylvania - 2nd|
|Al Green||Democratic||Texas - 9th|
|Alcee Hastings||Democratic||Florida - 23rd|
|Jesse L. Jackson, Jr.||Democratic||Illinois - 2nd|
|William J. Jefferson||Democratic||Louisiana - 2nd|
|Eddie Bernice Johnson||Democratic||Texas - 30th|
|Hank Johnson||Democratic||Georgia 4th|
|Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick - Chairwoman||Democratic||Michigan - 13th|
|Barbara Lee - 1st Vice Chair||Democratic||California - 9th|
|Sheila Jackson Lee - Whip||Democratic||Texas - 18th|
|John Lewis||Democratic||Georgia - 5th|
|Kendrick Meek - Foundation Chairman||Democratic||Florida - 17th|
|Gregory Meeks||Democratic||New York - 6th|
|Gwen Moore||Democratic||Wisconsin - 4th|
|Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton||Democratic|| District of Columbia - At-large |
(non voting congressional delegate)
|Donald M. Payne||Democratic||New Jersey - 10th|
|Charles B. Rangel||Democratic||New York - 15th|
|Laura Richardson||Democratic||California - 37th|
|Bobby Rush||Democratic||Illinois - 1st|
|Bobby Scott||Democratic||Virginia - 3rd|
|David Scott||Democratic||Georgia - 13th|
|Bennie Thompson||Democratic||Mississippi - 2nd|
|Edolphus Towns||Democratic||New York - 10th|
|Maxine Waters||Democratic||California - 35th|
|Diane Watson||Democratic||California - 33rd|
|Mel Watt||Democratic||North Carolina - 12th|
|Donna Edwards||Democratic||Maryland - 4th|
Analysis: Wal-Mart's overtures to the Congressional Black Caucus; reported conflict between the CBC and Barack Obama
Jun 09, 2005; FARAI CHIDEYA NPR Special 06-09-2005 Analysis: Wal-Mart's overtures to the Congressional Black Caucus; reported conflict between...