CBC-led Commission on Social Status of Black Men and Boys has first meeting

CBC-led Commission on Social Status of Black Men and Boys has first meeting
© Greg Nash

The Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys held its first meeting on Tuesday. 

Rep. Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonFlorida Democrats call on DeSantis to accept federal help to expand COVID-19 testing In their own words: Lawmakers, staffers remember Jan. 6 insurrection FAA levies 5K in fines against unruly passengers this year MORE (D-Fla.) introduced legislation establishing the commission following the murder of George Floyd and the nationwide protests sparked in its aftermath. A companion bill introduced by Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPut partisan politics aside — The Child Tax Credit must be renewed immediately These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine MORE (R-Fla.) passed the Senate in June 2020, and the final act was signed into law that August.

The new commission will gather information about various issues impacting Black men and boys, ranging from poverty, school performance and fatherhood to health issues, violence, and homicide and incarceration rates, as well as any related trends. It will also study how relevant government programs affect Black communities.

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Commissioners include members of Congress such as Reps. Lucy McBathLucia (Lucy) Kay McBathRouda passes on bid for redrawn California seat, avoiding intraparty battle with Porter Four states to feature primaries with two incumbents in 2022 Planned Parenthood endorses nearly 200 House incumbents ahead of midterms MORE (D-Ga.) and Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesWATCH: The Hill recaps the top stories of the week Fury over voting rights fight turns personal on Capitol Hill  Senate GOP blocks election bill, setting up filibuster face-off MORE (D-N.Y.), as well as issue experts, activists and other appointees such as the Rev. Al Sharpton and former California gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder (R). There are 19 members in total.

“This is a wonderful day. ... This is a transformative day. ... This is transformative legislation, and all of us are making history,” Wilson, who was selected as chairwoman of the commission by her fellow members, said during the inaugural meeting. “There has never been any bill, legislation or policy passed by Congress to address Black men and boys ... specifically.”

The first meeting consisted primarily of introductions made by members and brief discussions of issues that they felt deserved particular attention.

"We have very moderate members. We have very progressive members. We have all kinds of members," Wilson observed.

Jack Brewer, a Florida resident appointed to the commission by President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver dead at 77 Biden, Democrats losing ground with independent and suburban voters: poll Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law MORE, acknowledged that his politics differed from those of many of his fellow commissioners. "But I think for this call right now, we need to put our political perspectives aside," he said.

"The issues of Black boys and Black men is not a partisan issue," Sharpton said. "People are dying every day in our community. And it's been normalized, and I don't care if you're Democrat, Republican, independent or undecided. We all need to rise up about that."

Points of interest highlighted by commissioners during the first meeting included prison rehabilitation and education programs, gun violence and children growing up without father figures.

Wilson said the commission intends to conduct trips to federal prisons to visit inmates who are on death row and will partner with the NFL to address the issue of policing Black youth. 

The commission plans to hold its next meeting on Nov. 13.