Black Experience

CBCF Hosts 10th Annual AVOICE Heritage Celebration

Honors Black Leaders in 116th Congress

On Tuesday, Feb. 26, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) hosted the 10th installment of its official Black History Month program, the AVOICE Heritage Celebration.

During the program, they honored the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) chair and the five CBC members who chair House committees in the 116th Congress.

The event took place at the Eaton Hotel Washington in Northwest.

Heritage 2019 entitled, “Roots, Return, Remembrance: The Congressional Black Caucus and the Black Agenda,” took time to reflect on the many diverse stories of migration by African Americans and shared how these personal journeys shaped the mission of the CBC.

Honoring leaders who have significantly impacted the global Black diaspora through a political, social and historical agenda of empowerment, the program also featured a fireside chat with the awardees, special performances by the Washington Performing Arts and a screening of “Who I Am,” a short video that highlighted the respective legacies of the five committee chairs.

Benjamin Chavis Jr. (left), president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, moderates a discussion with Reps. Bennie Thompson, Bobby Scott, Eddie Bernice Johnson and Maxine Waters during the 2019 Avoice Heritage Celebration in northwest D.C. on Feb. 26. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)
Benjamin Chavis Jr. (left), president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, moderates a discussion with Reps. Bennie Thompson, Bobby Scott, Eddie Bernice Johnson and Maxine Waters during the 2019 Avoice Heritage Celebration in northwest D.C. on Feb. 26. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)

Honorees included: Rep. Karen Bass, CBC Chair – Distinguished Champion for Global Black Empowerment Awardee and the following, all Distinguished Leader of Black Legislative Empowerment Awardees: Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Chair, House Committee on Financial Services; Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, Chair, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology; Congressman Robert “Bobby” C. Scott, Chair, House Committee on Education and Labor; Congressman Bennie G. Thompson, Chair, House Committee on Homeland Security; and Congressman Elijah Cummings, Chair, House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Other who participated in the celebration included: Dr. Elsie L. Scott – Interim President and CEO, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc.; Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. (fireside chat moderator) – President and CEO, National Newspaper Publishers Association; and Tiffany D. Cross (mistresses of ceremonies) – Co-Founder, Managing Editor and Curator, The Beat DC.

Quotable Quotes

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“I would like to see a documentary on the Congressional Black Caucus like “Eyes on the Prize.”

“We presently have 55 members, five committee chairs who we call the Big 5, 20 subcommittee chairmanships and three in the leadership realm. Five of our 55 members come from districts that have few Blacks and that shows that we can represent anybody and everywhere.”

“There is not a piece of legislation that does hasn’t been marked by the Congressional Black Caucus. We want to make sure that Black Americans know what the Congressional Black Caucus is doing.”

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) the chair of the Financial Service Committee.

“As chairman, I want to expose how in 2008 our communities have been targeted by being denied loans and having to deal with exotic products. This caused our communities to have a lot of foreclosures. For many Black people, wealth is tied into their homes and that is why you have the wealth gap that is growing between Blacks and Whites.”

“They [big banks] are going to have to pay for this. I want to explore the credit bureaus how they determine their credit scores.”

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), the chair of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

“I am in charge of government basic research. This is not sexy but it is important. In my committee I address STEM education and how they affect HBCUs.”

“I am working to see more young people get into STEM education and the Links have a program where each of their chapters encourage young women to get into STEM.”

Dr. Benjamin Chavis, the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

“This program was phenomenal and historic. They tried to suppress the Black vote and suppress Black elected officials and relegate us to the margins.”

“Now we are front and center with the committee chairs. This is a glimpse into the future. Young people are our future and where they can participate bodes well for our future.”

“Our publications are very important. What you miss in Jet magazine, you can get in….the Washington Informer.”

On the CBC’s effectiveness:

Susan Lee said:

“They are effective. They set the tone and create the agenda affecting people of color. If I could talk to one of the CBC members I would tell them to keep doing what they are doing.”

Ibrahima Kebe said:

“The Congressional Black Caucus is effective because they are the voices of the African-American people on the congressional floor. We may not see the immediate benefits of what they are doing but it is critical that they continue their work.”

Reggie McCrimmon said:

“They are absolutely effective. They are addressing some of the unique challenges that we are facing today and no one is better to deal with African-American challenges than the Congressional Black Caucus. They not only have the knowledge but the expertise to deal with the problems of Black people.”

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