THE NEWSLETTER OF THE
Volume 8 No. 2
CBCF Announces Co-Chairs of 36th Annual Legislative Conference
“This conference will provide a venue to bring generations of
leaders together to examine conditions in our communities, share ideas and solutions, and ignite our desire for change.”
eps. Barbara Lee and Carolyn Kilpatrick have been named Co-Chairs of the 2006 Annual Legislative Conference (ALC). The ALC will take place September 69, 2006 at the Washington, DC Convention Center. To capture the vision and ideals of the past, present, and future, Reps. Lee and Kilpatrick have chosen a powerful theme for this year’s event: Changing Course, Confronting Crises, Continuing the Legacy. Each year, the theme selected by the ALC Co-chairs sets the overall tone and content for the conference. This year’s theme reflects the need to change the political, economic, and social discourse facing the Black community; to confront challenges and crises; and to continue the legacy of resistance and change established by African American trailblazers. “At a time when we have lost so many African American heroes like Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, C. Delores Tucker,
Johnny Cochran, Ossie Davis, and August Wilson, we must reflect on their contributions to our community and identify those who will continue their legacies,” said Rep. Barbara Lee. “This conference will provide a venue to bring generations of leaders together to examine conditions in our communities, share ideas and solutions, and ignite our desire for change.” Rep. Kilpatrick said, “African Americans must address the countless disparities that affect our quality of life. ‘Changing Course, Confronting Crises, and Continuing the Legacy’ is about redirecting our energies, resolving our issues, and renewing our commitment,” Rep. Kilpatrick added, “We have invited young leaders to participate in this year’s activities. We must continue to develop and guide them so they can carry on the legacy of strengthening our families and communities.”
Cont’d. on pg. 6
in this issue
CBCF Retreat Aims to Refocus . . . . .Page 2 Voting Rights Heroes In our Midst . . . . . . . . . . .Page 3 Black Health Empowerment Project . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 10 Success of SHOP . . . .Page 16 Mobilizing Business To Eliminate Health Disparities . . . . . . . . . . .Page 17
CBC Members Arrested During Protest at Sudanese Embassy
Washington, D.C.— Seven members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) were arrested on May 16 in demonstrating in front of the Sudanese Embassy to protest the violence against millions of people in Darfur.
Cont’d. on pg. 2 Among the CBC members arrested for demonstrating in front of the Embassy of Sudan in protest of the genocide in Darfur were CBC Chairman Rep. Melvin L. Watt and Rep. Barbara Lee.
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
CBCF Chairman’s Corner
Working for a Stronger and More Effective CBCF
By Rep. Kendrick B. Meek Chairman, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. Our Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Board is present to continue to make this program a success for our composed of dedicated and talented men and women from community. Congress and from many of America’s most prominent busiWe must ensure that our Annual Legislative Confernesses and corporations. They donate their expertise and ence, our premier fundraising event, raises the funds needcountless hours of effort to ensure that the CBCF operates ef- ed to support our programmatic obligations, as well as fectively and is properly funded. creates an informative and enjoyable weekend of events foBut every now and then it is a good idea to take a fresh cusing on legislative issues of importance to the African look at our work, to view things from a different perspective, American community. and to focus attention on what is being done and how it can Another priority is the need for the CBCF to raise awarebe made better-as well as to take a long term view of where ness of the CBCF’s mission among our stakeholders. With a we would like to be in the future. particular focus on our research It was in that spirit that, last and program agenda, it is impormonth, I hosted our CBCF Board, tant to keep everyone informed Our first priority will continue to be our Corporate Advisory Council about who we are, what we stand educational scholarship programs. (CAC), and the CBC Spouses in for, and how we are advancing the my hometown of Miami. It was CBCF to the next strategic level. an opportunity for Board MemWe also need to promote bers to review and discuss our scholarship, internship and more involvement in CBCF activities by the CAC and their refellowship, leadership development, housing and health spective companies. This group has always been a base of exservices programs, as well as consider new ideas in areas pertise and resources for the CBCF, and it is essential that we where we can be effective in serving our community. utilize and actively engage all members of the CAC. We also There was an air of excitement in coming together to discussed the potential of a joint meeting of the Board along consider where our CBCF is, where it is going to be, and how with the CAC to further discuss proposals on this topic. we can get there. Our discussions encompassed the CBCF’s Finally, meeting participants want to build on the commission, the roles and responsibilities of the Board, the CAC, munications and marketing functions of the CBCF. If we are our staff and the CBC Spouses, and our vision for the future. successful in this effort, we will be able to enhance the We focused on four key priorities to guide the CBCF’s CBCF’s fundraising activities, as well as the visibility of our continued success during the next year and for many years research and programs. to come. As my term as Chairman continues, I want to make sure Our first priority will continue to be our educational that all lines of communication remain open, and that all of our scholarship programs. The CBC Spouses, along with the stakeholders are actively engaged in fulfilling our mission. CBCF resource development staff, will continue to take the By opening ourselves to new ideas and utilizing available relead to ensure that adequate financial and staff resources are sources, we can build a stronger and more effective CBCF. s
CBC Members Arrested
The CBC members were arrested for “disorderly conduct” in obstructing the entrance to the Sudanese Embassy. Speaking at a press conference during the demonstration to dramatize the
Cont’d. from pg. 1 urgency of the crisis in Darfur, Rep. Melvin L. Watt, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said, “It’s time for the members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the world community to raise the ante on Sudan.” 2
Chairman Watt was joined by Reps. Barbara Lee, John Lewis, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Gwen Moore, Al Green, and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton in calling for an end to the continuing genocide and the plight of millions of people who have been slaughtered
and displaced by violence in Sudan. “The situation in Darfur has deteriorated significantly,” noted Rep. Lee. “People are dying and are in misery. Countless women and girls are raped daily, there is no food, conditions
Cont’d. on pg. 4
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
CBC Chairman’s Commentary
Voting Rights Heroes In Our Midst
By Rep. Melvin L. Watt Chairman, Congressional Black Caucus Bi-partisan legislation was recently introduced in Congress to extend the expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act for another 25 years. The identical bill, introduced in the House (HR 9) and in the Senate (S 2703), is appropriately called “the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Reauthorization and Amendment Act of 2006”. must meet to remove the obligation to “bail out” of the preclearance obligation and extends the expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act for 25 years; • Reverses two Supreme Court decisions in which the Court misconstrued the Voting Rights Act, Renov. Bossier Paris (Bossier II) and Georgiav. Ashcroft; • Allows recovery of expert witness fees and other costs of litigation in Voting Rights litigation; and • Extends for 25 years the current bilingual language provisions of the Voting Rights Act and provides that determinations of which jurisdictions will be subject to the bilingual language provisions will be made based on the Census Bureau's new American Community Survey rather than on an outdated Census process. Scholars and historians agree that the right to vote is the most basic right in a democracy—the foundation on which all our other rights are built. Consequently, passage of the Voting Rights Act extension legislation will certainly represent another significant step toward the “more perfect union” referred to in the Preamble to our Nation's Constitution. While the right to vote was a basic right that our”founding fathers” aspired to guarantee for themselves, they clearly did not have that same aspiration for African Americans, for other minorities or for women. If they had, there would have been no need to amend the Constitution numerous times and no need to pass and repeatedly extend the Voting Rights Act. Throughout history courageous people have fought to make the aspirations of our Founding Fathers apply to all citizens. Two of our colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus deserve particular recognition for the heroic roles they have played to give every citizen the right to vote: • First, without the heroic sacrifices of our colleague John Lewis at the Edmund Pettus Bridge and throughout the civil rights movement one can only speculate whether the original Voting Rights Act would have ever been passed. How fitting it is, therefore, that John Lewis is now a member of Congress and continues to be our moral compass as we move forward with this year’s extension of the law. • Second, the original passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 occurred while our colleague John Conyers, now the “Dean of the CBC”, was serving his first term as a member of Congress. The passage of this year's extension will mean that Rep. Conyers will have been an important force, as a member of the Judiciary Committee and as a member of Congress, in the passage of the 1965 Act, as well as every extension that has occurred since then (1975, 1982, 1992 and 2006). The members of the CBC suspect that Rep. Conyers may still be serving 25 years from now when the next Voting Rights Act extension is considered. As Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, I take pride in reminding you, as we are about to extend and strengthen the Voting Rights Act, that John Lewis and John Conyers are truly heroes in our midst. s
• Makes extensive congressional findings, based on numerous hearings, about the continuing need and justification for the Voting Rights Act; • Eliminates federal examiners provided for under the current Voting Rights Act because none have been appointed in over 20 years, but strengthens federal observer provisions to allow observers to be assigned based on a reasonable belief that violations of the 14th or 15th Amendment may occur; • Identifies by formula the jurisdictions that must get “preclearance”of any changes in voting procedures before the changes may be implemented,extends current requirements these jurisdictions
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
CBC Members Arrested
are unsanitary and there is an inadequate supply of water in the region.” Rep. John Lewis said: “We must not forget that while we consider what to do, the situation on the ground is worsening for the millions of people affected by the crisis. The CBC plans to build on the level of civic action and attention around the genocide in Darfur and will work to keep the world community engaged.” D.C. Delegate Norton noted, “After Rwanda,we said ‘never again’ but the genocide and rapes have not diminished and never again has come and gone. . . We have no less an obligation here than we had in South Africa to do much more to heighten awareness. If any-
Cont’d. from pg. 2 thing, the continuation of unabated genocide and unthinkable abuse of women and children creates an even greater urgency.” Recently, a peace agreement was reached in Abuja, Nigeria between the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese Liberation Movement (SLM). The CBC thinks that the agreement falls short of expectations to provide protection to civilians on the ground, more political representation for Darfur in the central government and adequate mechanisms for ensuring disarmament of the Janjaweed. During the press conference, Chairman Watt and the CBC listed the following demands to stop the genocide in Darfur:
• • •
Cessation of Violence—The government of Sudan and its Janjaweed militias must immediately stop the violence against Darfurians; UN Peacekeepers—A Chapter 7 UN peacekeeping mission to assist the African Union Mission; Accountability—Accountability for government officials and Janjaweed responsible for genocide; Emergency Food—President Bush must push the Government of Sudan to release its 300,000—500,000 metric tons of grain reserves to feed the starving people of Darfur; Civilian Protection—Protection of civilians who remain vulnerable; Refugee Return—The Administration must work to ensure the Government of Sudan does all it can for the internally displaced and the refugees of Darfur to restore security so they can return to their homes soon, and; Full Implementation of Peace Agreements—Full implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and South.
“Being arrested and going to jail is never a pleasant experience; nevertheless, the Congressional black Caucus is resolved to keep the fires burning on this issue until our voices are heard and listened to. Every freedom loving person in our country and throughout the world should be involved.” Rep. Danny K. Davis
A growing number of members of Congress are pushing for a measure passed in the House recently to be signed into law. House Resolution 3127 seeks to hold Sudanese government officials and Janjaweed commanders accountable for their involvement in the
genocide. U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, CBC member and head of the CBC African Task Force, is the chief cosponsor of this legislation. The CBC was the first to highlight the crisis in Darfur and on June 24, 2004 introduced H. Con Res 467, declaring genocide in the region. s
CBC members participating in the May demonstration at the Embassy of Sudan were Reps. Al Green, John Lewis, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Gwen Moore, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Barbara Lee and Melvin L. Watt. All of them were arrested.
CBC Members Reps. Danny K. Davis and Donna Christensen participated in a follow up demonstration at the Embassy of Sudan to protest genocide in Darfur and were also arrested.
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
We Have a Moral Responsibility to Help Stop the Genocide in Darfur
By Rep. Donald Payne At the recent “Rally to Stop Genocide” held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and sponsored by the Save Darfur Coalition, I reiterated my call for urgent action along with human rights activists, religious leaders, survivors of the Holocaust and the genocides in Cambodia, Kosovo, Srebrenica. Rwanda, South Sudan and Darfur. The rally was part of the “Million Voices for Darfur” campaign to generate one mil- Rep. Donald Payne takes notes as lion postcards urging the U.S. he speaks to a young Sudanese government to take action to girl who participated in the Rally to Stop Genocide. protect the people of Darfur. The event was also in conjunction with the “Tour for Darfur: Eyewitness to Genocide,” a photo exhibit traveling 21,000 miles and a speaking tour of 22 cities in 11 states to raise public awareness about the Darfur crisis. Nearly two years ago, on June 24th, 2004, I stood with the Congressional Black Caucus, Leader Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Tom Tancredo, and introduced H CON RES 467, declaring that genocide was occurring in Darfur, Sudan and that the Government of Sudan was responsible. This is the government which harbored Osama bin Laden. Tragically, and to our own shame, the genocide continues today—almost two years later—unabated. I have twice walked through the camps of the Darfur people who were violently forced by government troops and Janjaweed mercenaries to run for their lives. Try to imagine what it’s like to run away from everything you know in an instant, at gunpoint, to look back on your home and your village and see them engulfed in flames. Imagine the cries of scores of children, of men and women—young and old—being brutally killed, terrorized, raped. What continues to go on in Darfur today is the ultimate form of terrorism. An estimated 400,000 have already died from murder, starvation, diarrhea, and other preventable causes. Nearly 3 million were forced from their homes into other parts of the region or into Chad. Now the security nightmare has spilled over into Chad as well. Truthfully, it is difficult to imagine. We are half a world away, safe. That is why we bear such a great responsibility.
What Congress Can Do
We must call on the Administration to immediately push the National Congress Party to disarm the Janjaweed, to give the command to government troops to stop killing innocents, to send those responsible for the atrocities in Darfur to the appropriate international authorities as called for in Security Council resolution 1593, and to comply with Security Council resolutions 1564, 1591, and 1556. Every individual involved in giving or carrying out orders to kill Darfur citizens must be brought to justice. We must ban those involved in the genocide from traveling here to the U.S. We must also urge for the provision of additional assistance to the 7,000 African Union troops who are doing the best they can in Darfur. The House and Senate passed $50 million towards this emergency assistance recently. We must also ensure that all sanctions against the government of Sudan remain in effect until the genocide is ended, criminals are handed over, the Lord’s Resistance Army leaders are handed over, and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between North and South Sudan is fully implemented so that our work in ensuring peace does not go to waste. The House recently passed the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act—HR 3127. HR 3127 would put into effect the above actions to pressure the government of Sudan in Khartoum to end the genocide. We must do much more but this bill is a good step in the right direction. We must continue until the genocide has ended.
What You Can Do
Supporters of the Darfur campaign from around the country can do a great deal to end the genocide. You can join the divestment campaign encouraging states and universities around the country to divest from companies doing business in Sudan. My home state of New Jersey has already passed legislation, introduced by Assemblyman William Payne, to accomplish this goal. Illinois also has a divestment law on the books and several other states are looking to follow. Individuals can also help by sending letters to elected officials; hosting events in your home or place of worship; volunteering for or donating to organizations providing food and medical assistance to victims of Darfur. For information on how to join the divestment or letter writing campaigns, to donate, or get involved in another way please visit the websites listed below. Together we can end the genocide! s
www.darfurrehab.org • www.helpdarfurnow.org • www.savedarfur.org • www.genocideintervention.net 5
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
Co-Chairs of 36th ALC
Cont’d. from pg. 1
The ALC Co-Chairs are diligently working with the ALC Task Force and CBCF staff to assemble an exciting schedule of events that will celebrate historical perspectives and create a platform for emerging voices in the black community. Over 70 Issue Forums and Braintrusts are planned for ALC. These sessions will be led by legislators, laborers and other experts who examine matters pertinent to the African American community. Last year’s ALC included participation from such luminaries as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Senator Hilary Clinton, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Harry Belafonte, Donna Brazile, Rev. Floyd Flake, Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan, and Susan Taylor. The ALC Co-Chairs are actively cultivating civic leaders and other participants who will help CBCF take the conference to a new level. With the timing of the conference in early September, attendees can also expect to see recognition of the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Both Reps. Lee and Kilpatrick have accomplished much during their time in Congress. In the five terms Rep. Barbara Lee has represented California’s ninth Congressional District, she has earned a reputation as a principled and effective lawmaker. She is the most senior Democratic woman on the House International Relations Committee where she serves on the Africa and the Western Hemisphere Subcommittees. Rep. Lee also serves on the House Financial Services Committee, where she sits on the Housing and Domestic and International Monetary Policy Subcommittees. In addition to being the Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive
Caucus and a Senior Democratic Whip, she is the Whip for the Congressional Black Caucus. She is a founding member of the CBCF’s With Ownership Wealth (WOW) Initiative and serves as Chair of the CBC Task Force on Global HIV/AIDS, Co-Chair of the CBC Haiti Task Force, and core member of the CBC Housing Braintrust. She was recently appointed to the CBCF board and will be hosting an upcoming CBCF district level forum in Oakland. Rep. Kilpatrick is in her fifth term serving Michigan’s 13th Congressional District. Her hard work and thoughtful political style have earned her the confidence and respect of her peers, who have appointed her to the powerful House Appropriations Committee. She is the only Michigan Democrat to serve on this important committee, which authorizes spending for all levels of the federal government. Rep. Kilpatrick has been elected Second Vice Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus in the 109th Congress. She is Chair of the Community Outreach Committee, which coordinates activities designed to engage African Americans across the country in ongoing dialogue about federal issues affecting their lives. Rep. Kilpatrick was also selected to serve as the first Chair of the CBC’s Political Action Committee. The ALC is the chief fundraiser for CBCF’s activities. Proceeds from the conference allow the CBCF to deliver important education, scholarship, homeownership, public health, and policy research programs and initiatives. Each year, the CBCF distributes over $10,000 to deserving students in each Congressional District, and sponsors 43 interns and six congressional fellows to come to Washington, D.C. To register for the ALC and learn more about CBCF, log on to www.cbcfinc.org or call 202-263-2800. s
CBC Proposed Alternative Budget For Fiscal Year 2007
The Congressional Black Caucus presented to the House of Representatives a Budget Alternative to the Fiscal Year 2007 that focused on closing disparities in America’s communities and “restoring fiscal responsibility to the federal process.” CBC Chairman Rep. Melvin L. Watt and Rep. Bobby Scott, Chair of the CBC Budget Task Force, presented the CBC’s Budget Alternative during a session of the House of Representatives on May 17, 2006. Over the CBC’s five year proposal, the CBC budget would allocate $80 billion more for education and job training and $20 billion more for healthcare, $20 billion more for veterans services, $6 billion more for community development (including restoration of the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina) and billions more for nutrition and food programs, home ownership and energy programs, juvenile justice and gang prevention and scientific research. At the same time, the CBC budget would be balanced in five years. The CBC budget failed by a House vote of 131 - 294. s 6
Rep. Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. Secures Funds for Rosa Parks Statue
Rep. Jesse L. Jackson, Jr., a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said he was especially pleased that the House passed the FY 2007 Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill that includes $370,000 for the design, creation and acquisition of a lifesize stature of Rosa Parks. The statue will be placed in Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol. Rep. Jackson authored H.R. 4145 as the legislation that provides the funding for the Rosa Parks status, which should be placed in Statuary Hall by December 1, 2007 The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate for approval. If approved, it will then go to a House-Senate conference committee where final agreement will be reached and voted on before going to the President for his signature. s
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
Earth Day a Critical Environmental Justice Issue for Blacks
By Rep. Bennie Thompson Ranking Member, House Homeland Security Committee
Mercy, mercy me Things ain’t what they used to be, no Where did all the blue skies go? Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east Mercy, mercy me, mercy father Things ain’t what they used to be, no Oil wasted on the ocean and upon our seas, fish full of mercury Mercy, mercy me things ain’t what they used to be, no Radiation under ground and in the sky Animals and birds who live nearby are dying Oh, mercy, mercy me Things ain’t what they used to be What about this overcrowded land How much more abuse from man can she stand? — “Mercy, Mercy Me,” Marvin Gaye
pril 22nd was Earth Day. Yet for many AfricanAmericans, Earth Day was just another day in an environmental movement that is perceived as overwhelmingly white and privileged. For many, there is a feeling that the “green” movement is more committed to saving the spotted owl than addressing the environmental degradation of communities of color and the poor. This perception was further fueled by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal’s (PETA) Animal Liberation campaign last year which compared the treatment of animals to that of enslaved Africans during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade in the New World. Yet, if one takes a closer look at the history of the American environmental movement, we will find that it is replete with the contributions of African-Americans. For example, George Washington Carver, one of America’s greatest agricultural researchers, worked wonders in the field of crop rotation to preserve soil and improve farm productive. Zora Neale Hurston consistently documented and connected her literary characters’ developments to their land and environment. York, the enslaved African-American who accompanied Lewis and Clark during their expedition to the West, relied on his experience as a woodsman and hunter to impress the Native Americans he met along the way. It took a group of African-American churchwomen to radically alter the mainstream environmental images of salmon swimming upstream and the majestic Rockies to that of public health. 7
In 1982, hundreds were arrested in Warren County, North Carolina when protestors laid their bodies on a road to protest the dumping of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl) in their community. Although the community lost the battle, this effort is viewed by many as the birth of the environmental justice movement—a movement that studies, analyzes and attempts to eradicate the disproportionate impact that toxins have on communities of color and poor people. Their efforts were not in vain. The following year, the U.S. General Accounting Office conducted a study which found that three out of four off-site, commercial hazardous waste landfills in the southeastern United States were located within predominately black communities. In 1987, a study by the United Church of Christ Commission of Racial Justice found that race was the most significant factor in determining where waste facilities were located. Specifically, the study found that three out of five African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans and 50 percent of Asian-Pacific Islander Americans and Native Americans lived in communities with one or more uncontrolled toxic waste sites. A follow-up study in 1994 concluded that this trend had worsened. When the Congressional Black Caucus and civil rights groups began to highlight this issue, President Clinton issued Executive Order 12898, charging all federal agencies to address the disproportionate pollution and toxicity levels experienced by communities of color and the poor. Last June, President Bush reversed the Executive Order by removing race and class as a special consideration of the definition of environmental justice. As I continue to attempt to address the many devastations of Hurricane Katrina, I cannot help lamenting Marvin Gaye’s accuracy in “Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology).” Although written a generation ago, his words screamed at me when I toured the ravaged scenery of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and saw the storm’s impact on the local fisheries and shrimp farms. His lyrics haunted me when I walked through the Louisiana Gulf Coast and thought about the effect of the more than 125 oil and chemical plants—commonly referred to as “Cancer Alley”—on the health and homes of the many residents. As an avid hunter and outdoorsman, Marvin Gaye’s plea for the ecology is an awakening. Yes, Katrina exposed the intersection of racism and poverty. But, as African-Americans, we should take up Hurricane Katrina’s challenge, and take a close look at the environmental connection.
Cont’d. on pg. 9
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
Setting Goals and Achieving Outcomes
By Don I. Tharpe, Ed.D. President/CEO, CBCF Foundation, Inc.
As President of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF), I am pleased to report to our stakeholders and constituents on the status of our community outreach and special initiatives.
It was no accident that we chose to focus on these specific ailments and conditions during the CBCF BHEP community gatherings. Studies have shown that we are more likely to suffer serious complications and death from the health effects of all major illnesses, especially those related to lifestyle and genetics, such as Obesity, DiaI feel it is important that we tell our story, not only to betes, and Hypertension. share the many successes of our efforts, but to also make These three ailments have been known to devastate others aware of the beneficial programs offered through individuals and their families, causing irreparable harm CBCF. to their personal, social, and This column gives me the economic welfare. Taking our A major goal of the Black Health opportunity to do just that, and message on the road showed it is a responsibility I take very immediate positive and stunEmpowerment Project is to increase seriously. To that end, it is my ning results. awareness about the relationship pleasure to update you on the While we were conducting strides we have made in exhealth screenings at York Colbetween obesity and chronic health panding our programmatic oflege in Queens, New York, we conditions... ferings since adopting the CBCF encountered six people who Strategic Plan in 2002. Particucame to us for various tests. larly, I want to share with you One by one health officials exour efforts to focus the organization’s resources on effect- amined them and immediately became alarmed at what ing change in communities outside the “beltway.” they found. While we are grateful to the tens of thousands who As a result, all six of these unsuspecting citizens were place us on their calendars and come to Washington, D.C. rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment. They each year to engage the world’s foremost policy makers were not even aware that their health crises had reached in discussions during the Annual Legislative Conference a critical point. (ALC), we made a pledge to take those discussions to our It occurred to us that many of our people live daybroad base of constituents on a more frequent basis. to-day with the same health threats. It is important for us That process started immediately after the last Annu- to continue the drumbeat, to encourage people to get al Legislative Conference when we initiated the CBCF health screenings, and when possible, provide that opBlack Health Empowerment Project (BHEP) as part of portunity. our “Collective Power Tour.” The Black Health Empowerment Project is off to a The Collective Power Tour is a national initiative great start in 2006. In addition to the successful gatherconcentrating on lifestyle and wellness issues, that was ing that brought together hundreds of people, the madesigned by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation jority of whom were senior citizens, to learn ways of to promote health, education and policy dialogue among living healthier lifestyles, we also had a huge turnout in African Americans in communities throughout the U.S. Miami, Florida. A major goal of the Black Health Empowerment ProThat just goes to show that people are hungry for inject is to increase awareness about the relationship be- formation that will enable them to improve their health tween obesity and chronic health conditions that and live longer. We encourage you to visit our website, continue to plague communities of color, such as dia- www.cbcfinc.org regularly to find out when we are coming to a city near you! s betes, hypertension and heart disease.
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
Changing Course, Confronting Crises, Continuing the Legacy Annual Legislative Conference
September 6-9, 2006
By Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and Rep. Barbara Lee
We have been appointed as co-chairwomen of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) this year. We are excited, and our theme, CHANGING COURSE, CONFRONTING CRISES, CONTINUING THE LEGACY, places the Caucus in an important position. We will join with leaders across the country to redirect our energy, address our economic, social, and political challenges, and put us on the path to continue our legacy of strong leadership so that we can pursue our vision of success for our families and our community. The African American community is at a crossroads. We are facing our most critical challenges since slavery. Will we have access to higher education, employment, and economic opportunities that will prepare us for the 21st Century and guarantee our financial security in America? Will our young people have the skills, resources, and desire to offer the leadership and
We must enlist, empower, and equip African Americans to participate in generating programs and policies that will help us continue to move forward.
vision needed to ensure stability and success for future generations? We must create partnerships and develop leaders that will elevate our people to positions of power and prosperity. We must lay the foundation of leadership and direction needed for African Americans to determine our destiny. Our vision for CHANGING COURSE, CONFRONTING CRISES, CONTINUING THE LEGACY includes providing political, community, business, and religious leaders of all ages and backgrounds with the information, insight, and inspiration to address the many issues affecting African Americans. We must enlist, empower, and equip African Americans to participate in generating programs and policies that will help us continue to move forward. The charisma and commitment of civil rights activists such as Brother Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks sparked a movement and ignited African Americans’ efforts to achieve equality and freedom. Today’s leaders continue to make progress by achieving success in all areas of society, including education, business, and government. More must be accomplished. We must carry on this legacy by continuing to develop and guide a new generation of African American leaders. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before
us and must provide the same support to the young men and women who will follow. This year, each CBC Member will invite two young leaders between the ages of 21-40 to join us and work with our Emerging Leaders program. All ALC sponsoring businesses are asked to bring one young leader to participate with us. These young leaders will be involved in creating a comprehensive strategy to shape our future. We will improve the state of Black America by accepting responsibility for our success. Changing our current direction requires that we address our challenges and chart our course for our future. This will take commitment and dedication from all of us. We are proud to co-chair the Foundation’s efforts this year to assemble the ideas, resources, and leaders that will allow us to CHANGE COURSE, CONFRONT CRISES, AND CONTINUE OUR LEGACY. s
Cont’d. from pg. 7
On Earth Day, blacks should take the opportunity to better understand how public policies relate to the environment and our health. Let us lead the charge of defending our community’s environmental health.
In the words of Marvin Gaye, African-Americans must ask, “How much more abuse from man can she (Earth) stand?” Most importantly, on any Earth Day, African-Americans must commit to addressing Hurricane Katrina’s environmental devastation and health impact on our brothers and sisters. s
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
Black Health Empowerment Project Visits New York
By La Shonya McNeil Program Associate, Research and Programs An attentive audience of seniors, women, men and children moved in unison to upbeat music while learning the “mind, body and soul” benefits of exercising properly and regularly. Hands swayed, torsos stretched and smiles were plentiful during an energizing session led by international fitness guru, Kacy Duke. This inspirational warmup prepared participants for a day of motivating dialogue and activity at the most recent stop on the CBCF’s Black Health Empowerment Project (BHEP) Tour. On March 25, 2006, Congressman Gregory W. Meeks hosted the Black Health Empowerment Project (BHEP) in Jamaica, NY. Hundreds of community residents gathered at York College to learn about obesity and its connection to chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease that are rampant in the African American community. Several Queens Borough elected officials joined Congressman Kendrick Meek to support the event, which stressed “Making Wellness a Family Affair” through engaging seminars, demonstrations, health screenings and health-related exhibitors. Jacque Reid of the Steve Harvey and Friends Morning Show and former BET Night-
An enthusiastic crowd participated in the warm-up exercise.
ly News anchor served as event moderator and host of BHEP’s Healthy Living Talk Show. The forum engaged experts and attendees in a lively discussion about the state of African American health. Renowned nutritionist Rovenia “Dr. Ro” Brock taught participants nutrition fundamentals and healthy meal preparation tactics during the second part of the talk show with support from Rep. Meeks who served as a skilled cooking demonstration assistant. Sharing that he also makes great salmon, Congressman Meeks expressed his thoughts about the community health program: “This made for a very spirited, constructive and instructive event. There were health food vendors, games for children, information tables, video displays, blood
Noted nutritionist Rovenia “Dr. Ro” Brock demonstrates healthy meal preparations, with the able assistance of Rep. Gregory Meeks.
pressure testing stations, panel discussions and cooking demonstrations—including one by yours truly. I even saw an elected official or two stretching, reaching, bending—right on the beat, no less.” The Health & Fitness fair, facilitated by Dr. Bob Lee of WBLS 107.5 FM, was filled with health promoting activities for all ages includ-
ing: fitness demonstrations; dozens of local and national health exhibitors; free health screenings ranging from cholesterol and glucose testing to dental examinations; fitness equipment testing and book signings. The General Mills Honey Nut Cheerios ® bee mascot also made a special appearance in the Kids Zone
Cont’d. on pg. 11
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
CBCF Joins Other National Organizations In Supporting Voting Rights for New Orleans Residents
By Elsie Scott CBCF Vice President, Research and Programs
he Congressional Black Caucus Foundation joined a coalition of organizations under the banner of Unity ‘06 to support the voting rights of New Orleans residents displaced after Hurricane Katrina.
The Coalition came together to maximize impact as various civil rights and other organizations sought to ensure that the voting rights of displaced New Orleanians were protected. The need for involvement in protecting voting rights was made most urgent by the slow recovery of New Orleans. It is estimated that at least half of the New Orleans’ preKatrina residents still live outside the city. These residents are said to be scattered in as many as 47 states and the District of Columbia. With so many residents living outside the city and with many of its voting precincts in ruin, the city postponed the February municipal election until April 22. After the refusal of the state of Louisiana to make provisions for satellite voting by persons living outside Louisiana, several groups went to court to get the election postponed until appropriate provisions could be made to support voting by displaced voters. Appeals were made to the U.S. Department of Justice to reject the election plan submitted by the state of Louisiana because it violated the Voting Rights Act. Despite court action, personal appeals, media attention and demonstrations, the courts, the Justice Department and
the State of Louisiana approved the plan to hold the election on April 22. Nevertheless, the protests and direct actions did have an influence on the election process. Some election laws were relaxed to accommodate voters living out of state and in other areas of Louisiana. The most significant developments included the establishment of satellite voting stations in ten Louisiana locations outside the city of New Orleans, the mailing of absentee ballot notices to persons who had registered an address with FEMA and the use of faxes to receive ballots. Equally as important, the Louisiana Secretary of State, Al Ater took extraordinary measures such as having members of his staff present at each polling site to show that his office was trying to be accommodating. Members of the Coalition organizations monitored the New Orleans election for voter irregularities. A court order allowed us access to the inside of the polling places to observe the process. We made reports of voter problems and spoke with voters who were denied the right to vote. The most common complaints came from voters who had been removed from the rolls for various reasons. The voters, who came in wheelchairs, with walkers, crutches and canes, were pleased to see us there. Many expressed the belief that the election was one sign that New Orleans is coming back. The lawsuits, demonstrations and presence of monitors, while unsuccessful in forcing satellite voting in other states, were successful in making the process fairer than it would have been had not the Coalition organizations not become involved. s on the New York event: “BHEP is a wonderful example of a health promotion initiative that not only builds awareness of a critical health issue by bringing together community residents, experts and neighborhood organizations in a single setting, but takes that next step of providing practical strategies for families to take control of their health. The Foundation is proud to work with CBC Members as we take this important health tour across the country.” AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals and General Mills provide funding for the Black Health Empowerment Project. s
Black Health Empowerment Project Cont’d. from pg. 10
and attracted a group of young fans instantaneously. During a cooking demonstration at AstraZeneca’s “Cooking With Heart & Soul” pavilion, Celebrity chef Lindsey Williams
proved that taste doesn’t have to be sacrificed when preparing a nutritious dish. Williams—grandson of Sylvia Woods, who’s known as the “queen of soul food” in Harlem—shared his personal weight-loss-throughlifestyle-change story that resonated with onlookers. Dr. Don Tharpe, CBCF’s President and CEO reflected
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
CBC Health Braintrust Utilizes Web Technology At Virtual Town Hall Meeting on Medicare Part D
The CBC Health Braintrust has utilized the latest technology to get information about Medicare Part D to seniors across the country in CBC member districts.
Through a webinar, a webcast with 20 participating remote sites seniors were able to listen and to watch the CBC Spring Braintrust panel live as well as interact through the submission of email and faxes. Seniors participated in the CBC Health Braintrust Virtual Town Hall on Medicare Part D on Wednesday, April 26 on Capitol Hill. The live audience included seniors from the Washington Metro area. Seniors at remote sites in Chicago, Washington, DC, Baltimore, Richmond, New York, Cleveland, Los Angeles,Ft. Lauderdale, Houston, Memphis, Oakland, Atlanta, Nashville, Philadelphia and Dallas heard presentations from Medicare beneficiary and Part D advocate Fran Cooper, Marie Smith of AARP, Dr. Wilhelmina Leigh from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Dr. Reed Tuckson, of United Health Plan, A. Cassaundra Brown, from the Maryland Department of Aging and Sharon Latsonof the VITAS Healthcare Corporation.
Rep. Donna Christensen, Chair of the CBC Health Braintrust, addresses the well attended Town Hall meeting on Medicare Part D.
CMS Consultant Ben Johnson moderated the panel. CBCF Chair Rep. Kendrick Meek addressed the group, as did CBC Health Braintrust Chair Rep. Donna M. Christensen,and Reps. Barbara Lee and Sheila Jackson Lee. The forum was informational, advising seniors on what they needed to know about the new law. The CBC has asked President Bush to extend the enrollment deadline to the end of the year, so that all seniors can have the opportunity to participate in the program. The Virtual Town Hall was accessible on www.urban healthcast.com for 90 days beginning on May 3rd. s
Rep. Lewis Leads House Effort to Create DOJ Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Units
In a bipartisan effort, Rep. John Lewis joined forces with U.S. Senators Chris Dodd and Jim Talent and Rep. Jim Hulsoff to push legislation that would create two new offices in the Department of Justice.
hese two offices would focus on investigating and prosecuting unsolved Civil Rights-era murders, like the infamous Emmett Till case in Mississippi., which served as a catalyst for the modern-day Civil Rights Movement. Other states, like Georgia, also have unsolved murders on the books, such as the 1946 lynching in Monroe, 12
Ga. in which a pregnant African American woman and her husband were forced from their car by a mob. They were dragged 50 yards down a wagon trail and shot while a crowd of 200 people watched. No one was ever charged in the murders. Last year the Georgia Association
Cont’d. on pg. 13
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
CBCF Virtual Library Project A Pioneering Program
Avoice is the new name of the CBCF Virtual Library Project, a pioneering program initially funded by Dell, Inc.
The Virtual Library, which will be accessible through the Internet, will contain archives of the CBC, including landmark legislation that has shaped the social, economic and political landscape of the United States. This online library will present a history of African American participation in Congress by providing documents and legislation from African American Members of Congress. It will provide current and historical information that positions the library as the leading online resource
for African American political history and leadership. Offering interactive learning tools for educators that highlight the history of African American political involvement in Congress, it intends to promote civic engagement among youth. The recent events of Hurricane Katrina have demonstrated the fragility of our artifacts. This project is one step towards harnessing technology to continue to protect and preserve African American heritage. CBCF and Dell have invited the University of Texas-Austin (UT) and Howard University to serve as university partners in this project. UT has a reputation as one of the most knowledgeable and experienced groups in the area of Digital Libraries. The Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University is the official repository of the CBC archives as well as home to collections of papers from several retired members.
CBCF is committed to Moorland-Spingarn to transfer the digital images representing the over 200 boxes of materials housed at the Center. CBCF has established an advisory board for the project that includes Reps. Kendrick Meek, William Jefferson, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Elijah Cummings and Mel Watt, as well as representatives from the legal, archivist and educational fields. Currently, CBCF is building a demonstration web site to test functionality and methodology of this project. In the demo site, the first legislative theme highlighted will be the movement to create a national holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Avoice will illustrate the legislative role played by members of the CBC from 1968 to passage of the bill in 1983. CBCF has gathered many documents from the CBC Archives and collected photos from Congressman Conyers, the Martin Luther
King Jr. DC Library, and a photo agency. In February, CBCF staff and Howard University representatives traveled to the University of Texas for a tour of their state-of-the-art digitization facilities and a meeting with the President’s office regarding cooperative fundraising and press efforts. This was the beginning of the knowledge transfer between the two institutions. The next step for CBCF is additional document collection for the launch of the official web site in September 2006. This includes collecting documents from individual CBC members, past and present. This solicitation is ongoing. The themes for the launch site are the Anti-Apartheid Movement; the History and Origin of the CBC; and the Voting Rights Act. Future expansion of the site will include materials to support an educator’s use of this history and research and multimedia elements. s
Rep. Lewis Leads House Effort
Cont’d. from pg. 12 cases that resulted in death and still remain unsolved in coordination with state and local law enforcement officials. The Section Chief would be responsible for prosecuting these cases and would be required to report to Congress and the American people on their actions. If a crime other than murder is discovered during the course of an investigation, it will be referred to the appropriate law enforcement officials. The Section would report its findings to Congress annually on September 30th, the end of the federal fiscal year. The bill also provides $10 million in appropriations to establish both offices and funding for the Community Relations Service within the DOJ to work with local communities to solve these crimes. s 13
of Black Public Officials urged prosecutors to bring charges in the case. “There are unsolved cases like these in many states in America.” said Rep. Lewis, “If we allow these crimes to go unanswered, we cannot candidly declare we are a nation that believes in justice. By using the resources of the federal government to resolve these crimes, we are saying that historical context is no excuse for brutality in America. And we are reclaiming our integrity as a nation by doing what we can to right these wrongs today.” The bill would create an Unsolved Crimes Section, within the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, and an Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Investigative Office within the FBI. Both offices will focus on prosecuting pre-1970
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
Human Trafficking... Modern Day Slavery in a Global Community
By Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald
ecently, I led a bipartisan delegation of 13 members of Congress to meet with Ambassador John Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN); Ambassador Jan Eliason, President 60th General Assembly of the UN and other UN officials on the subject of Human Trafficking.
The all-day roundtable discussion provided my colleagues and me with invaluable insight and put a human face into this global problem. The very definition of Human Trafficking is Modern Day Slavery—the buying and selling of human beings against their will for the purpose of profit. The victims of this atrocity are mainly women and children.
Rep. Juanita MillenderMcDonald led one of the largest Congressional Delegations in years to the United Nations to discuss Human Trafficking. Flanking Rep. Millender-McDonald are Julia Ormond (left), UNODC Goodwill Ambassador, Human Trafficking, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney.
...reports have documented that 800,000 of our mothers, little sisters and little brothers are being bought, sold and exploited for profit, and the Human Trafficking industry is second only to drug trafficking in terms of profitability.
They are often used as sex slaves, horse jockeys and forced laborers and are brutally mistreated. Glaring reports have documented that 800,000 of our mothers, little sisters and little brothers are being bought, sold and exploited for profit, and the Human Trafficking industry is second only to drug trafficking in terms of profitability. There is a misconception that human trafficking is not a widespread issue and that it only affects a small percentage of the world. However, a recent report revealed that some 127 countries are faced with this issue including the United States. The globalization of the world economy is forcing us to look at crimes such as human trafficking from an international perspective as well as a domestic perspective. We can
no longer afford to operate under the guise of “Other People’s Problems”. We absolutely have to work with law enforcement from the world community with regard to crimes such as the trafficking of human beings. That is precisely why I introduced the resolution, 21st Abolitionist Movement (H.RES.490) that urges the UN to establish a commission on the prevention of slavery, human trafficking and sexual exploitation. A UN Commission would create a world stage to fight this multifaceted problem as well as lend tremendous resources of all its agencies. This level of support will equip us to fight the organized crime syndicates that control the industry because they have gone to great lengths to protect their billion-dollar a year business and they are extremely organized. Economic constraints brought on by natural catastrophes such as tsunamis, earthquakes or hurricanes have the ability to create the circumstances and environments conducive to criminal activity. Recently, we received a domestic snapshot from Hurricane Katrina of what can happen when law and order breaks down and desperation takes over. As part of our country’s leadership, we must work with our local, state, federal and international agencies to address this serious problem. By no stretch of the imagination is there any region of the world unaffected by this industry. It is happening everywhere and the United States has one of the biggest markets for sex trafficking. There has been some discussion about prevention, protection and prosecution of this crime but until we prioritize and organize our resources this crime against humanity will continue to enslave us all. s
(Rep. Millender-McDonald’s amendment to H.R. 5522 was passed by unanimous consent on the House floor on June 8. The amendment secures $2 million in additional funding to help fight Human Trafficking.)
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
Mercury in Dentistry Poses Health Threat
By Rep. Diane E. Watson
More than 100 million Americans have silver dental fillings. But the vast majority is not aware that traditional silver dental fillings consist of 50% mercury. Mercury is one of the most toxic minerals found in nature, second only to radioactive minerals. Mercury fillings continuously release small amounts of mercury vapor that patients inhale.
Last year, a student removed a vial of mercury from a Washington, D.C. area high school chemistry lab and disposed of it improperly. Local authorities closed the school for months. The clean-up costs reached multiples of hundreds of thousands of dollars. To date, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned mercury in disinfectants and thermometers, warned against mercury in certain foods, and prohibited the use of mercury in all veterinary products. The UK prohibits the use of silver fillings for pregnant women, and Scandinavian countries are phasing out its use. Despite growing awareness among medical experts, scientists, government officials, and the general public of the dangers of human exposure to mercury, the U.S.federal government continues to allow the unregulated use of silver fillings in dentistry. The FDA, the agency in charge of regulating silver fillings, is permitting the sale of a product that has not been proven safe and has not been classified as the law requires. It continues to allow the sale and use of silver fillings without disclosing to the American people that mercury vapor is released during the entire life of the filling. Dental offices are one of the prime sources of mercury pollution in our environment. The FDA, however, has never written an environmental impact statement on a product that is a major source of environmental pollution. The damage alone to our environment caused by the disposal of silver fillings makes no sense when alternative materials are available for every kind of dental cavity. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently released two studies that look at the impact of silver fillings in children. The government-funded studies found no evidence that dental fillings containing mercury are a health risk for children. The studies also did not assert that use of mercury fillings in dentistry is risk-free. More that one expert has cautioned against using the NIH studies to conclude that the use of mercury fillings in children poses no significant health risks. And one expert concludes that the studies prove nothing more than the already well-known toxic property of mercury, where it slowly impairs the body’s physiological ability to excrete mercury and other heavy metals after extended exposure. The issue is of particular importance to African American health consumers. Both the NAACP and the National Black Caucus of State legislators have in the past called for legislation to protect children and pregnant women from mercury dental fillings. At the low or moderate end of the economic spectrum, less choice exists. Upper-income consumers are increasingly choosing non-toxic alternatives, while low-income families are generally forced to choose mercury fillings or no fillings at all. Much more work remains to be done. I commend the FDA for announcing hearings later in September on mercury dental amalgams. But hearings alone are not the answer. The FDA must address the environmental impact of mercury fillings, require proof of safety, and level with the American people about the fact that silver fillings contain a significant amount of mercury. s
(Rep. Watson is the author of H.R.4011, The Mercury in Dental Fillings Disclosure and Prevention Act, which prohibits after 2008 the use of mercury in dental fillings).
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
Another Successful Season for the SHOP for Wealth Program
By Simone Griffin
April 2006 marked the close of the fourth season of the SHOP For Wealth Program.
After visiting over sixty Historically Black and Community Colleges with the Student Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP), CBCF realized that, though the upcoming graduates loved the program and the idea of purchasing their first property immediately out of school, they had been so bombarded with debt that they were no longer in the financial position to purchase a home. Thus, we decided to restructure the program to focus on general financial literacy. Now entitled the SHOP For Wealth program, we designed a seminar focused on credit, debt, money management, and the three keys to wealth building—homeownership,
business ownership, and investing. With the new curriculum in place, we looked at previous attendance numbers and, instead of continuing to rely on the schools to market this program, decided to hire a team with expertise in connecting with college students. CausEffect! International established a fresh campaign at each university to target students and get them excited about SHOP For Wealth. Thanks to them, CBCF sponsored campuswide events that made the students feel that we showed our support for the students’ interest and in turn garnered their participation in our program. Though we continue to learn how best to reach our intended audience, CBCF remains excited about the advances we have made in this program. Each year, we get increasingly larger audi-
ences, many hearing about the workshop from those who attended the year before. All of the fifteen universities we worked with this year see the value of the shifted focus to financial literacy, and have even asked us to return in the Fall simply to conduct the same workshop for the freshmen during their New Student Orientation. State Farm Insurance continues to be our Title Sponsor, supporting the SHOP For Wealth Program in immeasurable ways. Led by Michael J. Brown of the Public Affairs Department, State Farm has done an amazing job helping us put together the format of the program. Thanks to them, we will also be sending out monthly emails to former attendees, keeping them abreast of financial best practices. The program has also been joined by Pizza Hut,
who supplied each of the workshops with pizza from local restaurants. This proved to be a major draw for the students, driving them out in force for FREE pizza. CBCF is excited about the contributions of each of these companies, as well as that of partner, HomeFreeUSA, who designed the curriculum for the seminars. Headquartered in Washington, DC, HomeFree-USA is a non-profit homeownership and financial empowerment organization. They have placed over 3,000 families into homes of their own, and boast a zero foreclosure rate. We look forward to working with each of our sponsors and partners again in 2007, continuing to encourage students to begin building wealth immediately. s
Paul Brathwaite, CBC Executive Director, Receives Foundation of Ethnic Understanding Award
The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) has awarded the first annual Brenda Pillors Congressional Staff Award to Paul Brathwaite, executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus. The award recognizes the work Brathwaite is doing to build relationship between ethnic members of Congress and their respective communities. According to Rabbi Marc Schneier, FFEU president, “Like Brenda Pillors, Paul has worked diligently not only with the CBC, but he has worked to bridge gaps between the other Congressional ethnic caucuses.” 16 Ms. Pillors, who served for many years as Chief of Staff to Rep. Ed Towns and who supported relationship building between ethnic caucuses, died last summer of complications from asthma. “Paul’s intelligence, strong work ethic, commitment to service, self-discipline and integrity make him the natural choice for the Brenda Pillors Congressional Staff Award,” noted Rep. Melvin L. Watt, CBC Chairman. “Serving as CBC executive director over the past five years, Paul has exemplified the qualities and attributes for which Brenda was prized and which are most valued in Congressional Staff.”
Cont’d. on pg. 20
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
Mobilizing Businesses to Help Eliminate African American Health Disparities
By Rep. Donna Christensen Chair, CBC Health Braintrust healthier business and stronger bottom line. Measures to reduce health disparities already are under way in some companies and include the following: • At renewal meetings with health plans, some companies are asking about plans and initiatives to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities and use the responses as criteria for renewal. Additionally, some health care executives routinely survey employees about their experiences communicating with healthcare providers and use the feedback as criteria for health plan renewal. Some companies are looking to establish quality measurement around reduce health disparities and some disseminate information about appropriate health care services so that employees are armed with information about quality health care before they access the health care system. Some health care executives routinely survey employees about their experiences communicating with health care providers and use the feedback as criteria for health plan renewal. Some companies disseminate culturally and linguistically competent health education materials to raise awareness about health issues that disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities.
Eliciting the help of businesses large and small is a key component in the advancement of the health disparities debate. Many companies and businesses have already realized that it is in their best interest to reduce and eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities because it helps decrease direct and indirect health care costs. They should be encouraged to partner with those of us who advocate health care access for all.
They provide health care benefits to their employees and extend those benefits to their employees’ dependents. In fact in the United States, roughly 3 in 4 people with health care coverage, aged 19 to 64 years of age, receive their coverage from their employer. Additionally more than half of all children, aged 18 years and younger, receive their health care coverage through their parents or legal guardians for employer-sponsored health care. Many companies and businesses also are faced with rising health care costs, and these double-digit increases are the result of increases in direct costs (e.g., direct health care expenditure) and indirect costs (which refers to being at work, but too sick or preoccupied about health concerns to be productive on the job). In fact, according to the National Business Group on Health, the national voice of large employers dedicated to finding innovative and forward-thinking solutions to the nation's most important health care issues of racial and ethnic health disparities do not just cost a great deal to racial and ethnic minorities, interms of their health, but also costs a lot to companies and businesses.
Several health plans also recognize the crucial role they can play in efforts to eliminate health disparities. While some already have launched initiatives, health disparities would be reduced if all health plans routinely did the following: • Initiated programs that voluntarily collected racial and ethnic information from patients through surveys, health assessments and interviews; Collected and analyzed the racial and ethnic makeup of the provider networks; Conducted analysis of HEDIS data against Medicare’s racial and ethnic data to measure results in health disparity reduction; and Sponsored forums and training sessions for provides (i.e., physicians and nurses) to foster cultural competence in addressing disparities in health care. s
HEALTH DISPARITY ELIMINATION: HELPING COMPANIES PROTECT THEIR BOTTOM LINE
By working to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities, particularly in preventive, diagnostic and treatment-related care and services, companies and businesses could help reduce the severity and prevalence of chronic and acute conditions, maintain a healthier workforce and thus, a
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
We, In Congress, Have A Moral Obligation to Fight Poverty
Poor People Being Ignored by Government
By Rep. G. K. Butterfield
Today, more than ever, Americans find themselves in need of food, shelter, clothing and health care.
Last year, the number of people who were hungry because they could not afford to buy enough food rose to 38.2 million- a staggering increase of 7 million people in just five years. Americans are also suffering as a result of increases in the number of people without healthcare insurance. Poor working families are not seeing any significant increases in wages or incomes, and this has all added up to an increase of 3.7 million Americans falling into poverty since President Bush took office. This devastation has occurred despite nearly a decade of economic growth and low levels of unemployment and inflation. These numbers paint a bleak picture. I know personally that for far too many people living in the First District of North Carolina, these revelations are much more than just numbers. These sad and terrible realities embody a good number of my constituents. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, I represent one of the nation’s poorest regions. Nearly 30 percent of the children and well over 20 percent of all people living in the district are poor. This is illustrated by the nearly one in 20 homes in some counties don’t have a telephone or a kitchen, and by
the fact that many people are still living without indoor plumbing. Eastern North Carolina isn’t unique in its poverty or suffering. People are poor, getting poorer and largely being ignored by the federal government all across the country. This is an undeniable epidemic affecting people all across the country. Sadly, the federal government’s response to this crisis continues to be one marked by flaccid indifference. This is shameful but real. As elected leaders in Congress, we have a moral obligation to fight for the millions of Americans who are overlooked and suffering each and every day. We must develop a comprehensive strategy to eradicate the growing poverty and hunger in the world’s wealthiest nation. The lack of affordable housing, health care, child care and access to education, economic opportunity and public transportation are just a few of the many other challenges we must address. To find solutions and meet these great challenges, I will be working with my colleagues to create the Congressional Anti-Poverty Caucus. It is my sincere hope that we can put partisan politics aside to help those people who are suffering and need to escape the growing cycle of poverty. The time is now to bring focus, energy and attention back to the “War on Poverty.” s
American Dream Becomes Reality For Many First Time Homebuyers in Philadelphia
irst time homebuyers in Philadelphia can take advantage of a new program designed to put more families in their own residences. Thanks to the efforts of Rep. Chaka Fattah, 16 area banks and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh (FHLBank), ‘First Front Door,’ a $6 million
program, will help lowerincome first-time homebuyers across the tri-state region with down payment and closing costs. The program is highly competitive. Rep. Fattah encouraged first-time homebuyers to claim funds under the first-come, first-served program as soon as possible. The program is being 18
offered in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia. “First Front Door provides a compelling reason for those who are renting to seriously consider homeownership,” said Rep. Fattah. “At least 1,000 homebuyers are expected to benefit from this program in 2006, and we want as many of them as possible
to buy homes in our neighborhood.” Through 16 Philadelphia banks, the FHLBank will contribute $3 for every $1 contributed by the homebuyer, for a maximum of $5,000 per recipient, based on need. Member banks will also make measurable concessions to the affordability
Cont’d. on pg. 19
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
Cont’d. from pg. 18 of the house such as waived or reduced fees or points or below-market rates. There are some requirements; the homebuyer must successfully complete homeownership counseling that addresses topics like creditworthiness, household budgeting and home maintenance. Buyers must also receive counseling on predatory lending. Further, the buyer must live in the new home for at least five years in order to keep the full amount of the grant. ‘First Front Door’ provides down payment and closing cost assistance for first-time homebuyers with incomes at or below 80 percent of their area’s median income. Under ‘First Front Door,’ an individual is considered a first-time homebuyer if he or she has not owned a home within the past three years, or owned a home only while married but not as a single person within the past three years. Homes that qualify for purchase with FFD assistance include single-family homes, townhomes, duplexes, condominiums and modular units. “First-time homebuyers represent the cornerstone of a community,” Rep. Fattah continued. “Building equity in a first home empowers individuals and families to build wealth for future life events—including moving up in the housing market— while contributing to a community’s property values, stability and social life.” s
Breaking Down the Barriers Surrounding Mental Health Care
By Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson As the only registered psychiatric nurse in the U.S. House of Representatives, I have experienced first-hand the need to expand awareness and support for the issue of mental health. Although it has been 100 years since the inception of the modern day mental health movement, mental illness continues to be stereotyped in American society. Unlike physical aliments that can be seen and measured, mental illness is less tangible, but exists all the same. Physical health care is far more accessible than mental health care and far less scrutinized. Only one third of Americans with a mental health disorder seek professional treatment. African-Americans are even less likely to receive treatment as the social stigma surrounding mental illness remains a strong barrier. There is a general mistrust and misunderstanding of mental health treatment within the African-American community, mainly due to historic discrimination and mistreatment. Public awareness regarding symptoms associated with mental disorders is essential for the AfricanAmerican community. Currently, there is reluctance within American society to seek professional med19 ical attention for mental illness. For those who recognize a problem and attempt to seek professional treatment, they often choose the emergency room rather than deal with the stigma associated with seeing a counselor. Emergency rooms are simply not equip to provide the long term counseling, medication and monitoring that is often necessary to effectively treat mental illness. Education regarding symptoms of mental illness and how to access appropriate health care is essential to breaking down barriers within the African-American community’s perception of mental illness. The embarrassment many Americans feel regarding mental illness is often reinforced by health care insurance providers who place inordinate restrictions upon mental health patients. Changing societal views towards mental illness is a long-term process that begins with how the health care industry treats its patients. Without considering health care needs, insurance companies place caps on the number of treatment sessions a patient can receive and pre-determine limitations on hospital stays. This has resulted in patients being denied much needed care. The consequences are often tragic for those patients who cannot afford the additional out-ofpocket expenses. Arbitrarily denying a patient’s need-based care reinforces stereotypes for mental health care patients and society as a whole. For the millions of Americans with mental health disorders, both artificial and actual barriers keep many from seeking much needed treatment. The key to eliminating the double standard that exists for the mental health care is two-fold. We must first close the loopholes that allow insurance companies to allocate treatment on the basis of profit rather than need. Additionally, demystifying mental illness through education will breakdown social stigmas and increase awareness and access for many of our underserved communities. It is reprehensible that Americans face so many barriers when seeking proper medical attention. The truth is that mental and physical aliments are not all that different. While Congress cannot solve all of the problems associated with mental health care, we can help bridge the divide in the way we look at and treat mental disorders. s
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
A Home Worthy of the Father of Black History
By Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton
The home of Carter G. Woodson, the creator of Negro History Week, which we now celebrate as Black History Month, is finally getting the respect he was the first to give to African American history itself.
s a result of my bill, P.L. 108-192, the Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site is now the 389th unit of the National Park System. When renovated, the home in the District will be open to the public and will join the homes George Washington, Frederick Douglass, and other great Americans whose contributions are so significant that the United States itself cares for their homes in perpetuity. While the nation has been celebrating Black History Month, Woodson’s home has been boarded up since the 1980’s, mocking the annual celebration. Few Americans have heard of Carter G. Woodson, the second African American to get a Ph.D. from Harvard University after W.E.B. Dubois, and the man who single handedly made a discipline of Black history. Through painstaking scholarship and historical research, Woodson’s work
helped reduce the stereotypes that prevailed even in the elite publications of his time and have marred our history as a nation. Despite growing numbers of African Americans writing about their own history, publishers were uninterested until recent decades. Woodson didn’t hesitate. He
Our History (1922), and many others, and the publishing company provided an outlet for scholarly works by numerous other black scholars. ASALH also circulated the Negro History Bulletin, designed for mass consumption, and the Journal of Negro History, which
discuss the contributions of African Americans; professional historians defamed African Americans and built the prejudices and discrimination of the larger society into our history books. It took a great intellectual like Carter G. Woodson to begin the process of going to the historical
Before Woodson, ... professional historians defamed African Americans and built the prejudices and discrimination of the larger society into our history books.
was primarily directed to the academic community. He trained researchers and staff, and managed the organization’s budget and fundraising efforts, while at the same time pursuing his own landmark studies and books on African American history. Before Woodson, American history texts and publications not only failed to
simply became publisher, entrepreneur, and distributor. He founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). He created the Associated Publishers, Inc. to handle the publication of research on African American history. Associated Publishers published his seminal work, The Negro in
record. Woodson began the effort to not rewrite history, but to write African American history. Today, he is recognized as one of America’s greatest historians. Woodson’s home will be a new tourist attraction in the nation’s capital worthy of the founder of Black History Month who made history himself in the home. s
Cont’d. from pg. 16
As CBC executive director, Brathwaite is responsible for coordinating all domestic and foreign policy legislative initiatives for the 43-member CBC. A native of Washington, D.C., Brathwaite grew up in Dover, Delaware. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Delaware State University and his 20
Master’s in Public Policy and law degrees from Duke University. The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, under the leadership of Rabbi Schneier and Russell Simmons, Chairman, is a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting racial harmony and strengthening inter-group relations. s
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
Applause for Hispanic Higher Education Gain
By Rep. Major R. Owens
In the College Access and Opportunity Act (H.R. 609), which recently passed in the House, Hispanic Serving Institutions scored major gains.
Beyond the present law, which reserves special funds for any undergraduate institution with a Hispanic student body of twenty-five percent or more, there is a great leap forward in H.R. 609 to include coverage for Hispanic Serving Graduate Institutions. A new deserving group will receive much needed special coverage. They will be joining the: American Indian Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities; and the Alaska Native and Native Hawaiians serving institutions; all of these are presently covered with special titles in the Higher Education Assistance Act (H.R. 609). Historically Black Colleges and Universities are also covered; however, unlike the Hispanic Serving Institutions,
there will be no forward movement in the number of schools and students covered. Tragically, the number of Black institutions has decreased by ten since the legislation was passed in 1986. Support for an amendment to replace the lost slots was tabled by the Congressional Black Caucus which means that the only opportunity left for maintaining the level of funding rests with action in the Senate. Fear of obsolete questions being raised about any racedirected program led to CBC inaction; however, no such questions have been raised about programs clearly targeted for the groups mentioned above. Congratulations are due to the Hispanic leadership which over the years has used the precedent set by the Historically Black Colleges and Universities in 1986 to build their case for targeted assistance. Perhaps now there might be a reversal of precedent utilization and with the aid of the Senate ten predominantly Black Colleges and Universities can be included in this vitally needed Federal education aid program. s
House Passes Legislation Containing Rep. Cummings’ Provision To Protect Anti-Drug Activists
The U.S. House of Representatives this spring passed the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 2005, H.R. 2829, in a 399 to 5 vote.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, who serves as the Ranking Member of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources, said that the bill is a vital component of the federal government’s commitment to fight back against illegal drugs. Since he entered Congress in 1996, Rep. Cummings has successfully worked in a bipartisan manner to reduce the impact of drug abuse in the nation. In serving as a leader in the floor debate of the bill, Rep. Cummings said, “As we worked on this important legislation, illegal drug abuse, drug addiction, and drugrelated violence are exacting an enormous toll on our society by destroying lives, tearing apart families, and devastating entire communities. Nationwide, drug abuse will contribute to the loss of 50,000 lives, and more than 20,000 Americans will die as a direct consequence of illegal drug use, this year alone.” The bill reauthorizes the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which oversees the nation’s anti-drug initiatives. Also known as the Drug Czar’s office, ONDCP’s basic mandate is to coordinate and support the efforts of drug control agencies located in eight different departments. Rep. Cummings was exceptionally pleased with the bill’s adoption of “The Dawson Family Community Protection Act of 2005,” H.R. 812, which he reintroduced in 2005. The language adopted from the Dawson bill provides for additional federal funding to better protect neighborhood anti-drug activists against retaliation. More specifically, the bill authorizes at least $7 million annually to support High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program initiatives that protect communities suffering from severe levels of drug-related violence that occur as a by-product of intense interstate drug trafficking activity. s
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
COPE ACT Sets the Stage for Increased Video Options, Minority Ownership and Lower Cable Prices
By Rep. Bobby Rush
Out of growing concern about constant, steady hikes in cable rates and lack of competitive cable choice in most markets—in both diverse programming and service providers—the need for speeding entry into the marketplace became a decision of great paramount and priority.
y interest in jointly sponsoring The Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act of 2006, also known as the Barton-Rush bill, was driven out of the need to bring competition in the video market to my constituency, which is predominately African American.
More than any other demographic or ethnic group, African Americans watch more television and spend billions of dollars on television services. Horowitz Associates released a study earlier this year, in which they found the following:
• Minorities have higher penetration rates for digital television: African Americans 21%; Whites 16%; Hispanics17% and Asians 18% Minorities have higher penetration rates for premium channels: African Americans 86%; Whites 64%; Hispanic 79% and Asians 80%.
Minorities are the top subscribers to premium channels, including HBO and Showtime: 74% of African American urban cable customers; 63% of Asians and 61% of Hispanics and 43% of Whites subscribe to more than one extra fee service. Minorities are the best pay-per-view customers. Approximately 44% of surveyed African-American households watched at least one pay-per-view movie or event in the past year compared to 22% of Whites.
The numbers alone speak for themselves, and I decided to speak for my constituents. The COPE Act not only will drive down the cost of cable, but it will also create telecommunications jobs, provide entrepreneurial opportunities and playa significant role in closing the economic divide. It will create much needed diversity in programming and ownership of media outlets. It will benefit individuals such as James Makawa, founder of The Africa Channel, who I invited to testify at the Subcommittee level. With the COPE Act, African Americans will not only control the remote, but we will have the power to control our dollars and the way our story is told. s
Africare honored Rep. Charles B. Rangel with the Legacy Award for his leadership and legislative support for the people of Africa. The event was held at the International House on May 1 in the Congressman’s district. Africare Board Chairman W. Frank Fountain (left) and Africare President Julius E. Coles (2nd from right) presented the award. Legacy Award event emcee was Julia Wilson, host of an international television show on Africa.
JULY 2006 • VOLUME 8 NO. 2
Crowds Flock to Rep. Clay Career Fair At Harris-Stowe University in St. Louis
Congressman Calls Unique Job Event A Huge Success
“Because of recent layoffs and acquisitions of local companies by out-of-
town buyers, the St. Louis area has a large pool of talented workers who are looking for a new position where they could apply their years of training
and experience,” said Rep. Clay.
groups, the Clay Career Fair offered a huge variety of potential employers who were searching for quality new employees at all levels. One of the primary goals of the event was to target persistently high unemployment and underemployment in parts of the 1st Congressional District. “Because of recent layoffs and acquisitions of local The unique event brought together over seventy of the companies by out-of-town buyers, the St. Louis area has a area’s top employers to meet and greet job seekers from across the region. Hundreds of eager visitors lined up in large pool of talented workers who are looking for a new position where they could apply the rain prior to the event to get their years of training and experifirst crack at interviews with leadOne of the primary goals of the ence,” said Rep. Clay. ing companies and government Participating partners had favoragencies. event was to target persistently high able reviews for the Career Fair. “The Career Fair succeeded unemployment and underemploySylvia Johnson-Prince, of Primeribeyond our wildest expectations. ment in parts of the 1st Congresca Financial said, “I thought it was It was a huge success. I’m thrilled awesome. All of the companies that so many residents took adsional District. that were there, it was mindvantage of this terrific opportuniblowing. I guess we have done ty to meet with and learn about about ten follow-up interviews this week. We hope to be some of the St. Louis area’s best employers from both the there next year, maybe twice a year!” Two major labor private and public sectors,” said Rep. Clay. unions reported they had talked to between 200 - 300 potenHe added, “Our goal was to create an innovative employment event that would offer opportunities to every- tial new employees, and a hospice organization identified 25 one from first-time job seekers to successful professionals potential new staffers. A leading national drugstore chain found 15-20 potenwho were looking to advance their careers. With the intial employees and a retail furniture outlet found 5 managevaluable help of Harris-Stowe University and our excellent vendor partners, we achieved that. And we will ment trainee candidates and 10 entry level applicants. Local law enforcement agencies also experienced strong interest definitely be back next year.” Rep. Clay’s Career Fair was created by building an un- from the crowd. Lt. William Anderson, of the University precedented community partnership of employers from City Police Department commented, “I thought it was exacross the region, and from all sectors of the St. Louis econ- cellent. We handed out about 30 applications. I had never omy. Unlike most employment events, which usually worked at an event like this, and I’m definitely recomfocus on entry levels jobs in one or two narrow industry mending that we participate next time.” s
ST. LOUIS—Even a steady rain could not keep overflow crowds from flocking to Rep. William Lacy Clay’s First Annual Career Fair at Harris-Stowe University in St. Louis.
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