BY CHEYANNE M. DANIELS –
Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) addresses reporters during a press conference on Thursday, July 27, 2023 to discuss the state of race and democracy in America with members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Black Americans are under attack, members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) said Thursday, arguing that a slew of efforts from Republicans across the country are an assault on their rights.
“Black people are under attack in America, but we are not victims and we are not powerless,” CBC Chairman and Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) said at a Thursday press event from the Capitol.
“Our fundamental rights are under assault and our very history is being denied. But we will not stand by quietly as it happens. We will never give up when so many people are counting on us to fight for them.”
In the last month, the GOP-led state Legislature in Alabama defied a Supreme Court order to create a second majority-Black district, as did the Legislature in Louisiana. In Florida, new education guidelines have been approved by the state Board of Education that require students be told of the benefits people earned because of skills learned as slaves.
Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), the youngest elected member of the House, blasted his home state for the guidelines.
“We have a far-right governor and Legislature that literally wants to erase us,” he said. “The goal is to condition this generation to white supremacy, because they see this generation is pushing against this far right-wing fascist ideology.
“We want our freedoms. We want our people to be safe. And so seeing that as an existential threat to the Republican Party, they aim to change the way a generation thinks by changing what we teach them. But little do they know, not only will it not work, it’ll piss us off and move young people to go and organize.”
Beyond the steps taken by various state governments, Black members of Congress have also been outraged in recent weeks by statements from GOP colleagues at the Capitol.
Rep. Eli Crane (R-Ariz.) referred to Black people as “colored people” on the House floor during a recent debate, just days after Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) defended his statement that white nationalists are not racist.
Horsford said he doesn’t “expect much” from Republican leaders at this point, but Rep. Troy Carter (D-La.) said it is time for the party’s leaders to take a stand.
“When you hear something as egregious and so patently wrong, you would expect Republicans, Democrats and others to stand up and denounce such lunacy, but their silence is deafening,” said Carter. “As members of the Congressional Black Caucus … we will not condone the erasing of history. African Americans and slavery today, Holocaust and our friends in the Jewish community tomorrow. When will it stop?”Rep. Troy Carter (D-La.)
“I call out for all people to stand up against this,” Carter said. “Not just Black people, but everyone. Because what we expect from Kevin McCarthy and other leaders, particularly those who would attempt to ascend to the highest office of the land, stand up. Stand against bigotry. Stand against racism, stand against hate, stand against xenophobia. Stand up for what’s right, not for what’s politically expedient.”
The CBC has issued a list of demands, which include asking the Department of Justice and the Department of Education to investigate education policies.
Members of the CBC met with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Wednesday to discuss Black history policies. The caucus also issued formal letters to Cardona and Attorney General Merrick Garland and has met with the White House on the need for a “very aggressive legal strategy.”
“Let me be clear: Black people did not benefit from slavery,” said Horsford. “We built this country! Our literal blood, sweat and tears were squeezed out of our souls to build roads and bridges, construct beautiful mansions and government buildings, including this very Capitol and the White House. When you lift up Black people or Black America, you lift up everybody. We will not allow this ban on Black to endure.”