Something that you may have missed in the shuffle from last election was that the 115th Congress will be the most racially diverse ever, including a record number of African Americans. These 49 lawmakers will now account for a little more than 9% of the 535 members of our legislature. Unfortunately, this representation still lags behind the general prevalence of African Americans in the population as a whole—about 12.6% of the population. The five newcomers are Kamala Harris, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Anthony G. Brown, Val Demings, Al Lawson, and Donald McEachin. Representative Rochester and Representative Demings are both the first women and African Americans to represent their districts.
Unfortunately, this progress also comes at a time when the we are also facing major questions about policing and its effect on the African American community. The deaths of unarmed African Americans at the hands of police is a problem that numerous facets of society are grappling with, and has inspired the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Most recently, the confrontation between teens and an off-duty Anaheim police officer also had racial overtones—thank goodness nobody was hurt. Even attempts to educate children about these issues still face an uphill battle, such as when a high school essay written for Black History Month went viral recently for racist content, claiming that all the stories in the Bible were about white people, and other inflammatory statements.
But this just tells us what we already knew: the work of Liberty and Access for All is not yet finished! Now is the time to invest in the next generation of African American leaders. That is the only way our Congress will ever look like our country, and our law enforcement will have an equal effect on our lives. You can help by donating or by directing us to organizational partners for 2017. We must remember, that equitable access for all Americans is a year-round job.