CBC-led Commission on Social Status of Black Men and Boys has first meeting
The Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys held its first meeting on Tuesday.
Rep. Frederica Wilson (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 Rubio (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.
Commissioners include members of Congress such as Reps. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) and Hakeem Jeffries (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 Trump, 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.