House Passes the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act

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U. S. Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), center, introduced a Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys

Recently the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act (S.2163/H.R. 1636) by a vote of 368-1. The bill, which was introduced by Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-FL) and cosponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would establish a 19-member commission to examine the social disparities that disproportionately affect Black males in America. Chairman Nadler supported bringing the legislation, which was referred to the Judiciary Committee, directly to the House Floor for a vote.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the systemic racism and inequality that has harmed so many throughout our nation,” said Chairman Nadler. “The legislation passed by the House today will unearth the many social, cultural, economic, educational, health, and other issues that have for centuries served as barriers to the advancement and safety of Black men and boys. I want to thank Congresswoman Wilson for her tireless work on this legislation, and I urge the President to sign it into law.” 

“I am elated that this legislation, which I have been fighting for several years to pass, is now poised to become national law. The commission will review police brutality, gun violence, fatherhood, recruiting and training Black male teachers, and even sneakers, which play an important role in the lives of Black boys. Welfare reform and the 1994 crime bill, which includes the controversial three strikes provision and harsh sentencing guidelines, also will be revisited. These federal policies left a devastating impact on Black men and boys in America,” said Congresswoman Wilson. “The commission’s underlying goal is to interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and to better understand and eventually eliminate the educational and social chasms that have made it extraordinarily difficult for Black males to become upwardly mobile.”

The Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act establishes a permanent, bipartisan commission within the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Its 19 members will include congressional lawmakers, executive branch appointees, issue experts, activists, and other stakeholders who will examine social disparities affecting Black men and boys in America. Based on its findings, the commission will issue policy recommendations to Congress, the White House, and federal agencies. The bipartisan, bicameral Caucus on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys, which Congresswoman Wilson founded and co-chairs, will craft legislation to implement those recommendations.

The legislation is cosponsored by more than 200 members of Congress and has been endorsed by more than 20 renowned civil rights leaders and organizations, including Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, actor Omari Hardwick, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Council of the Great City Schools, Teach for America, the National Football League, Reform Alliance, Teach for America, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority, Inc.

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