Congressional Black Caucus holds summit on democracy and race

“We will not stand back and watch while extremists deny Black history and the very existence of Black lives.” – U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev.

Black congressional leaders held a half-day, closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to discuss what they have slammed as the Republican Party’s ongoing attack on democracy.

Following the National Summit on Democracy and Race, U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, led a press conference to discuss how the CBC plans to protect Black Americans’ fundamental rights. 

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 9: Congressional Black Caucus chairman Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) speaks during a news conference about the Justice For All Act outside the U.S. Capitol March 9, 2023 in Washington, DC. The bill, introduced by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), aims to strengthen anti-discrimination laws. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“We will not stand back and watch while extremists deny Black history and the very existence of Black lives who need to be protected from gun violence, police brutality and poor economic conditions,” said Congressman Horsford.

He continued: “We will push back against threats to our democracy whether it’s election denialism and partisan gerrymandering, charges against wokeism, whitewashing our history by banning books or challenging our fundamental freedoms and bodily autonomy in the courts.”

Horsford demanded “immediate action” following the expulsions of Tennessee state legislators Justin Jones and Justin J. Pearson and the North Carolina Supreme Court’s recent decision to reverse rulings on racial gerrymandering and discriminatory voter ID laws.

The Nevada congressman then turned his attention to the United States Supreme Court, which will soon issue two landmark decisions related to race. One ruling will impact the role of affirmative action in the college admissions process, and the other will determine whether North Carolina’s redistricting map deemed racially discriminatory is constitutional.

“These cases will have profound implications on the communities that we represent,” Horsford said to reporters.

Horsford told theGrio that the CBC would respond accordingly if the Supreme Court overturned the affirmative action and voting rights cases.

“We will be prepared to ensure any legislative or legal actions that we can take that we’re ready to do … once the Supreme Court acts,” he affirmed. “We don’t want to be reactionary, we want to be proactive, and that’s why today’s summit was so important.”

The Democratic lawmaker pointed out that the U.S. is seeing an uptick in unconstitutional threats against Americans’ fundamental rights because “MAGA extremists Republicans, and those at the local state and national levels, are bolstered by a right-leaning judiciary who are tempting to run the table with every tactic in their arsenal to erode the fundamental tenants of our democracy.”

Author and academic Michael Eric Dyson, who spoke at the summit, told theGrio, “These issues not only constitute a threat to American democracy but to African-American people in particular.”

Michael Eric Dyson appears at IMPACT Strategies and D&P Creative Strategies 2nd Annual Tech & Media Brunch celebrating Congressional Black Caucus week at Longview Gallery on September 13, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for IMPACT Strategies and D&P Creative Strategies )

As it pertains to affirmative action and voting rights, Dyson said leaders should find “creative ways behind the scenes and outside of the legal purview of the Supreme Court to make sure diversity, equity and inclusion is a reality.” 

After Tuesday’s summit, Horsford announced that the CBC will unveil “legislative” and “legal” plans to present in Congress and will recommend “executive orders” to present to the Biden-Harris administration intended to “protect democracy.”  

In addition, the CBC will launch the “Summer of Action to Defend America,” around the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, which will include several undisclosed events that will take place in 10 major cities such as Las Vegas, Atlanta, Baltimore, Milwaukee, New Orleans and Houston.

“CBC members will go into communities partnering with local mayors, leaders of Divine Nine organizations, civil rights and advocacy groups to directly engage constituencies on these issues,” shared Chairman Horsford.

The congressman said the caucus will unveil more information regarding the summer action campaign in the coming days. 

In the meantime, he and CBC members pledged to do all they could to “defend our communities against attacks from MAGA Republicans and the ideological Supreme Court and federal judges who are working to weaken our fundamental protections under the law.”

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