CBC Founders Give Witness to History During Convention

Cbc | 9/21/2011, 4:45 p.m.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In 1971, the cost of a gallon of gas was under $1, the U.S. voting age was lowered to 18, and 12 men and one woman formed one of the most influential caucuses on Capitol Hill.

Four decades later, the surviving six original members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) will hold a symposium to talk about lessons learned, goals accomplished, and work yet to be done. The session will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thurs., Sept. 22 at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C.

This session is one of the highlights of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 41st Annual Legislative Conference (CBCF ALC) that's in session Sept. 21-24 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

"Conversation with the CBC Founders," will offer attendees an intimate look at the members as they reflect on how to lead and how to serve. The original group of 13 consisted of Reps. Shirley Chisholm (NY), William Clay (MO), George Collins (IL); Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (MI); Rep. Ronald Dellums (CA); Rep. Charles Diggs (MI); Rep. Walter Fauntroy (DC); Rep. Gus Hawkins (CA); Rep. Ralph Metcalfe (IL); Rep. Perrin Mitchell (MD); Rep. Robert Nix, Sr. (PA); Rep. Charles Rangel (NY); and Rep. Louis Stokes (OH).

Considered one of the most influential caucuses on Capitol Hill, CBC now has 43 members, and continues to pursue its original goal of working to improve the socioeconomic condition of African Americans and other underserved groups. From the beginning, this group dubbed itself "The Conscience of the Congress," taking stands that it felt would enhance the personal lives and communities of the constituency it serves.

Two of the original members, representatives Conyers and Rangel still serve in Congress. Both were participants in the iconic fights that led to the passage of the King Holiday, the Voting Rights Act band the destruction of apartheid in South Africa.

The Foundation has captured this history through its Avoice site - African American Voices in Congress - www.avoiceonline.org. The site is the central, online source of information about African-American political and legislative participation. It is a valuable tool for researchers, educators and students - offering users access to a unique collection of content on the role of African Americans in shaping democracy in the United States. It represents the official history of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).

ALC provides an outlet to highlight the mission of CBCF - to develop leaders, to inform policy and to educate the public - by providing more than 80-high level, thought-provoking forums to address the critical challenges facing the African-American Diaspora. Also offered during the four-day event are free health screenings, an authors' pavilion, networking opportunities and cultural activities.