Tag: Politics

#TuesdayTalk Politics: James Clyburn

ames E. Clyburn is the Majority Whip is the third-ranking Democrat in the United States House of Representatives.  He previously served in the post from 2007 to 2011 and served as Assistant Democratic Leader from 2011 to 2019.

When he came to Congress in 1993 to represent South Carolina’s sixth congressional district, Congressman Clyburn was elected co-president of his freshman class and quickly rose through leadership ranks. He was subsequently elected Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Vice Chair, and later Chair, of the House Democratic Caucus.

As a national leader, he has championed rural and economic development and many of his initiatives have become law.  His 10-20-30 federal funding formula was included in four sections of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Congressman Clyburn is also a passionate supporter of historic preservation and restoration programs.  His efforts have restored scores of historic buildings and sites on the campuses of historically black colleges and universities.  His legislation created the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor and the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, elevated the Congaree National Monument to a National Park, and established the Reconstruction Era National Monument in South Carolina’s Lowcountry.

Congressman Clyburn’s humble beginnings in Sumter, South Carolina as the eldest son of an activist, fundamentalist minister and an independent, civic-minded beautician grounded him securely in family, faith and public service. His memoir, Blessed Experiences: Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black, was published in 2015, and has been described ‎as a primer that should be read by every student interested in pursuing a career in public service.

Jim and his late wife, Emily England Clyburn, met as students at South Carolina State and were married for 58 years. They are the parents of three daughters; Mignon Clyburn, Jennifer Reed, and Angela Hannibal and four grandchildren.

#TuesdayTalk: Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm became the first African American congresswoman in 1968. Four years later, she became the first major-party African American candidate to make a bid for the U.S. presidency.

Who Was Shirley Chisholm?

Shirley Chisholm is best known for becoming the first black congresswoman (1968), representing New York State in the U.S. House of Representatives for seven terms. She went on to run for the 1972 Democratic nomination for the presidency—becoming the first major-party African-American candidate to do so. Throughout her political career, Chisholm fought for education opportunities and social justice. Chisholm left Congress in 1983 to teach. She died in Florida in 2005.

Early Years and Career

Chisholm was born Shirley Anita St. Hill on November 30, 1924, in a predominantly black neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. Chisholm spent part of her childhood in Barbados with her grandmother. After graduating from Brooklyn College in 1946, she began her career as a teacher and went on to earn a master’s degree in elementary education from Columbia University.

Chisholm served as director of the Hamilton-Madison Child Care Center from 1953 to 1959, and as an educational consultant for New York City’s Bureau of Child Welfare from 1959 to 1964.

First African American Congresswoman

In 1968, Chisholm made history by becoming the United States’ first African American congresswoman, beginning the first of seven terms in the House of Representatives.

After initially being assigned to the House Forestry Committee, she shocked many by demanding reassignment. She was placed on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, eventually graduating to the Education and Labor Committee. Chisholm became one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969 and championed minority education and employment opportunities throughout her tenure in Congress.

972 Presidential Campaign

Chisholm went on to make history yet again, becoming the first African American and the second woman to make a bid for the U.S. presidency with a major party when she ran for the Democratic nomination in 1972.

In announcing her bid, Chisholm said, “I am not the candidate of black America, although I am black and proud. I am not the candidate of the women’s movement of this country, although I am a woman and I am equally proud of that. I am the candidate of the people, and my presence before you now symbolizes a new era in American political history.”

Books and Later Career

Chisholm authored two books during her lifetime: Unbought and Unbossed (1970), which became her presidential campaign slogan, and The Good Fight (1973).

After leaving Congress in 1983, she taught at Mount Holyoke College and was popular on the lecture circuit.

Death and Legacy

Chisholm died on January 1, 2005, at the age of 80, in Ormond Beach, Florida. Nearly 11 years later, in November 2015, she was posthumously awarded the distinguished Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Remembering Elijah Cummings (1951-2019)

The Baltimore-area Democrat who chaired the powerful House Oversight Committee and drew the ire of President Donald Trump — died early Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital due to complications from longstanding health challenges, his office said in a statement. He was 68.

Cummings had represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District for 23 years before ascending in January to his perch atop the Oversight panel, from which he oversaw several investigations into the current administration. 

Cummings was a force inside the Democratic caucus who earned the trust of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to take on some of the toughest and most politically sensitive assignments. Known for his booming oratory and poetic delivery, Cummings quickly emerged as one of Democrats’ most effective critics.

“When the history books are written about this tumultuous era, I want them to show that I was among those in the House of Representatives who stood up to lawlessness and tyranny,” he said in a Sept. 24 statement.

“Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior. It only creates more division among us,” Cummings said in his speech in early August. Despite his central role in some of the most politically explosive investigations in recent years, Cummings was a rare figure who forged friendships and bonds across the aisle.

Cummings was the beloved son of Baltimore, born in the city on January 18, 1951, and could often be seen walking the streets of the inner-city district, an area where he lived in the same house for more than three decades. “He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation’s diversity was our promise, not our problem.”

Remembering Kenneth A. Gibson (1931-2019)

Kenneth Allen Gibson, the first African American mayor of Newark, New Jersey, was born in 1931 in the town of Enterprise, Alabama.  He graduated from high school in Enterprise in 1950 and joined the U.S. Army as a civil engineer.  He remained in the Army until 1958. After his discharge, he took a job as a New Jersey State Highway Patrol trooper while simultaneously attending Newark College. Gibson graduated with a B.S. in Civil Engineering in 1963.

After college Gibson took an engineering position for the Newark Housing Authority where he oversaw urban renewal projects from 1960-1966. In 1966, he became Newark’s chief structural engineer. He was also the head of Newark’s Business and Industry Coordinating Council and served as vice president of the United Community Corporation, which fought poverty in Newark during that time.

In 1970 Gibson ran for Mayor of Newark, New Jersey and defeated incumbent Hugh J. Addonizio, who was subsequently convicted of extortion and conspiracy charges. Gibson took over a predominantly African American city, still recovering from the race riot of 1967 which left 23 people dead. He was credited for economic revival that resuscitated the city’s economy. When he first came into office, the city was in the midst of a population loss from 400,000 to 300,000.  By the end of his first term, the numbers slowly began to grow again as Gibson encouraged the return of middle class residents with urban housing developments such as Society Hill.  His administration was also initially identified with black nationalist poet and playwright Amiri Baraka whom many credited with Gibson’s first election to the mayor’s post.

Kenneth Gibson served four consecutive terms in office until 1986 when he was defeated for reelection by Sharpe James following a scandal which resulted in his indictment on conspiracy and misconduct charges.  Gibson was acquitted in his subsequent trial that took place after he left office.

Gibson was actively involved in a number of civil rights organizations such as the National Urban League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).  In 1976 Gibson also became the first African American to serve as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Introducing: Mayor LaToya Cantrell!

Mayor Cantrell’s life has been steeped in community service. As a little girl, her grandmother would bring her to neighborhood meetings, and by the age of 13, she was serving as secretary for her local chamber of commerce.

“My soul found its home in New Orleans,” is how Mayor Cantrell describes her arrival in 1990 as a student at Xavier University. After graduation, she and her husband, Jason, bought a home in the Broadmoor neighborhood, and Cantrell became an active member of her new community.

As the President of the Broadmoor Improvement Association, Cantrell led the neighborhood’s redevelopment following Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures. Flooding decimated Broadmoor, but through citizen engagement and Cantrell’s leadership, Broadmoor is now considered an international model for disaster recovery.

Elected to the City Council in 2012, Cantrell has prioritized improving people’s lives.

On May 7, 2018, Mayor Cantrell was sworn in as the first female Mayor of New Orleans, just in time to celebrate the city’s tricentennial, or 300th anniversary.

She is a dedicated wife to her husband, Jason, proud mother of her daughter, RayAnn, and a parishioner at Blessed Trinity Catholic Church.

Mayor Cantrell pledges to produce results that will create a more equitable and safe New Orleans for all residents.

Introducing: Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley!

Ayanna Pressley is the first African American woman that Massachusetts elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ayanna Pressley is an advocate, a policy-maker, an activist, and survivor. Her election to the Boston City Council in 2009 marked the first time a woman of color was elected to the Council in its 100-year history. This laid the foundation for Ayanna’s groundbreaking work, with which she has consistently strived to improve the lives of people that have too often been left behind.

Raised in Chicago as the only child of an activist mother who instilled in her the value of civic participation, Ayanna understands the role that government should play in helping to lift up communities that are in need of the most help. After her election to the Council in 2009, she successfully pursued the establishment of the Committee on Healthy Women, Families, and Communities. The Committee addresses causes that Ayanna has always been most devoted to: stabilizing families and communities, reducing and preventing violence and trauma, combating poverty, and addressing issues that disproportionately impact women and girls.

Ayanna is intentional about engaging community voices in leading and informing policy by making sure they have a seat at the table.

Ayanna’s legislative achievements resulted in her being the top vote-getter in three consecutive elections, making her the first woman in 30 years to achieve this distinction and the first person of color to top the ticket.

In 2016, Ayanna was named one of The New York Times 14 Young Democrats to Watch. In 2015, she earned the EMILY’s List Rising Star Award and was named one of Boston Magazine’s 50 Most Powerful People. In 2014, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce named her as one of their Ten Outstanding Young Leaders, and the Victim Rights Law Center presented her with their Leadership Award. She is also an Aspen-Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership, Class of 2012.

Ayanna lives in the Ashmont/Adams neighborhood of Dorchester with her husband Conan Harris, nine-year-old stepdaughter Cora, and cat Sojourner Truth.

Introducing: Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver!

Sheila Y. Oliver took the oath of office as New Jersey’s 2nd Lieutenant Governor on January 16, 2018. She is the first woman of color to serve in statewide elected office in New Jersey history. She was appointed Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs by Governor Phil Murphy.

Lt. Governor Oliver is a 40-year resident of East Orange, and a native of Newark.

First elected to the General Assembly in 2003, she became Speaker in 2010 – the first African-American woman in state history to serve as such, and just the second in the nation’s history to lead a state legislative house.

She has chaired the Assembly Human Services Committee, and served on the Labor, Higher Education, Women and Children, Commerce and Economic Development, and Transportation and Independent Authorities committees. She also sat on the Joint Committee on the Public Schools and the Joint Committee on Economic Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity.

Prior to her election to the General Assembly, she served as an Essex County Freeholder, from 1996 to 1999, and was a member of the East Orange Board of Education.  She also served as an Assistant County Administrator for Essex County from 2000 until 2018.

An alumna of Newark’s Weequahic High School, she went on to graduate cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. She also holds a Master of Science Degree in Community Organization, Planning and Administration from Columbia University.

Lt. Governor Oliver began her career in public service as the Director of the Office of Youth Services and Special Projects for the City of Newark, where she focused on preparing young people ages 14 to 21 for post-secondary education and entry into the workforce. She later became the Development Director for The Newark Literacy Campaign while working at Caldwell College as the Coordinator of Career Guidance within the Educational Opportunity Fund Program.

She has taught college courses in Achievement Motivation, Non-Profit Management, and Pre-College Preparation, served as a consultant to a variety of non-profit organizations, and spent several years as the Director of the Essex County Division of Community Action, an anti-poverty initiative.

Lt. Governor Oliver has served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations, including the East Orange General Hospital Board of Trustees, the United Way, the Newark Coalition for Neighborhoods, the Newark Collaboration Group, the Rutgers-Newark Educational Opportunity Fund Advisory Council, the Global Women’s Leadership Collaborative of NJ, the Essex County and East Orange Committees on the Status of Women, Programs for Parents, and a number of other community-based entities. She has held memberships in the Women’s Political Caucus of NJ, the NAACP, and the Urban League.