The Power is Now

Readout of Congressional Black Caucus National Summit on Democracy and Race

On Tuesday, May 9, 2023, the Congressional Black Caucus convened the National Summit on Democracy and Race in Washington to bring together government leaders, scholars, activists, experts and thought leaders to develop messaging and organizing strategies to address the ongoing threats to our democracy and threats to our fundamental freedoms.

The National Summit on Democracy & Race focused on the intersection of race and democracy, and offered leaders of the CBC the opportunity to draw input from a wide range of actors for possible legislative options that could be presented in the Congress, as well as recommendations on executive actions to present to President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland to fortify our democracy, prevent the erasure of Black history, and hold government actors and state legislatures accountable for suppressing our constitutional freedoms.

The Summit was convened in light of upcoming Supreme Court cases, including Merrill v. Milligan and Students for Fair Admissions v. UNC and Harvard, that will decide the scope of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act as applied to racial gerrymandering, and rule on the use of race in admissions decisions in both public and private institutions of higher education, respectively.

Additionally, the Summit was held in response to many recent threats to our democracy including the expulsions of Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson from the GOP-led Tennessee State Legislature, as well as recent decisions by the conservative North Carolina Supreme Court to reverse rulings on illegal partisan gerrymandering, discriminatory voter ID laws, and voter restoration. Moreover, the Summit was convened amid the Supreme Court and ideologically-driven federal judges weakening our fundamental protections under the law, ongoing election denialism and partisan gerrymandering, charges against ‘wokeism’, whitewashing Black history by banning books.

The Summit included sessions on the following topics:

  • Affirmative Action, Book Bans/Curriculum Censorship, and Democracy
  • Civic Engagement, Messaging, and Organizing
  • Voting Rights and Redistricting

Chairman Steven Horsford discussed with attendees the launch of the Summer of Action to Defend America that will take place in at least 10 cities around the country beginning in southern states including Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Florida, among others. During the Summer of Action to Defend America, CBC Members will work in partnership with city mayors, leaders of Divine 9 organizations, civil rights groups, and community organizers to hold messaging and mobilization events on democracy and race.

CBC Members in attendance:

  • Rep. Steven Horsford
  • Rep. Hakeem Jeffries
  • Rep. Yvette Clarke
  • Rep. Joyce Beatty
  • Rep. Lucy McBath
  • Rep. Troy Carter
  • Rep. Lauren Underwood
  • Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes
  • Rep. Terri Sewell
  • Rep. Ayanna Pressley
  • Rep. Al Green
  • Rep. Andre Carson
  • Rep. Barbara Lee
  • Rep. Jasmine Crockett
  • Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost
  • Rep. Nikema Williams
  • Rep. Summer Lee
  • Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove
  • Rep. Valerie Foushee
  • Rep. Gwen S. Moore
  • Rep. Emanuel Cleaver
  • Rep. Jonathan Jackson
  • Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester
  • Rep. Joe Neguse
  • Rep. Glenn Ivey
  • Rep. Frederica Wilson
  • Rep. Bobby Scott

Principal guests in attendance:

  • Eric Holder, Former U.S. Attorney General
  • Kimberle Crenshaw, UCLA School of Law
  • Derrick Johnson, NAACP
  • Michael Eric Dyson, Vanderbilt University
  • Melanie Campbell, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
  • Regina Moss, National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda
  • Dr. Barbara Williams Skinner, Skinner Leadership Institute
  • Spencer Overton, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies
  • Laura Hall, National Black Caucus of State Legislators
  • Marc Elias, Elias Law Group
  • Luis Fuentes-Rohwer, Indiana University
  • Guy-Uriel Charles, Harvard Law School
  • Debo Adegbile, WilmerHale
  • Margaret Huang, Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Tracie Hall, American Library Association
  • Ebonie Riley, National Action Network
  • Patrice Willoughby, NAACP
  • Shavon Arline Bradley, National Council of Negro Women
  • Stephen Green, St. Luke AME Church
  • Joi Chaney, J.O.I Strategies
  • Nicole Austin-Hillery, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
  • Jesselyn McCurdy, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Michael Huggins, Color of Change
  • Dr. Kareem Crayton, Brennan Center
  • Nadine Farid Johnson, PEN America, Washington and Free Expression Programs
  • Danielle Lang, Campaign Legal Center
  • Shambulia Gadsden Sams, NOBEL Women
  • Tanya Clay House, Hip Hop Caucus
  • Kiara Pesante Haughton, Demos
  • Antjuan Seawright, Blueprint Strategy
  • Daryl Anderson, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
  • Dorian Spence, Lawyers Committee
  • Stacie NC Grant, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
  • Breon Wells, The Daniel Initiative
  • Lakeila Stemmons, National Bar Association
  • Michael Blake, Atlas Strategies
  • Kimberly Robinson, Delta Sigma Theta
  • Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip Hop Caucus
  • Candyce Phoenix, National Urban League

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