The legislative agendas of African-American Members in the post-1970 era reflected the diversity of their committee assignments and the range of interests within the general membership of Congress. Most sought to advance a broad progressive legislative agenda supported by advocacy groups such as the National Urban League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)—extending voting rights protections, improving educational and economic opportunities, fostering urban renewal, and providing access to better health care. With greater frequency, some departed from traditional “black interests” and pursued legislative agendas that reflected the unique needs of their constituencies or their personal positions on issues.60
Extensions of civil rights era voting protections were a touchstone for African-American Members of Congress. Efforts to retain and expand upon the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965—which Barbara Jordan once referred to as the “frontispiece” of the civil rights movement—provided continuity between Members of the civil rights generation and their successors in the post-1970 generation of Black Americans in Congress. Two extensions were of particular importance: the Voting Rights Acts of 1975 and 1982.
The Voting Rights Act of 1975 (P.L. 94–73) strengthened the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (as well as its 1970 extension).61 The House passed the act on June 4, 1975, by a vote of 341 to 70. After Senate passage, and House acceptance of some Senate amendments, President Gerald R. Ford signed the measure into law on August 6, 1975, the 10th anniversary of the original landmark bill. As with earlier acts, jurisdictions covered by the 1975 extension had to submit to the U.S. Attorney General any changes in local and state election law for “preclearance”—a determination of whether the modification had discriminatory intent. The 1975 act also increased jurisdictions covered by the act to include locations in the North and West. Moreover, it applied not just to African Americans, but also “language minorities,” including Spanish speakers, Native Americans, and Asian Americans. It required bilingual elections in areas where there were large numbers of minorities whose English literacy was below the national average.62
African-American Members played a prominent part in this debate. “The voting rights act may have overcome blatant discriminatory practices,” noted Barbara Jordan, testifying before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Constitutional Rights. But she added, “it has yet to overcome subtle discriminatory practices.” Charles Rangel agreed that the protections were needed. “Malevolent local government must not be exposed to any temptation to take back the political rights and powers that have so recently come to southern blacks,” Rangel said.63Andrew Young pointed to vastly improved registration numbers in the seven southern states covered by the original 1965 act (29 percent registered in 1964 had expanded to 56 percent in 1972) as well as in the number of elected black officials in the South (72 in 1965 compared with 1,587 in 1975). “The remarkable effect of this act is that it has a preventative effect,” Young observed. “There are some reports that the threat of suing examiners has a deterrent effect—that local registrars began to register black voters so that federal examiners would be kept out.”64
The 1982 Voting Rights Act (P.L. 97–205) extension provided another victory for the civil rights movement and also paved the way for the expansion of Black American representation in Congress in the 1990s.65 During floor debate prior to overwhelming passage by the House, a number of black Members of Congress spoke on behalf of the bill. Representative Bill Clay, Sr., cast the debate in broad terms: “Are we willing to continue our forward momentum in America’s bold and noble attempt to achieve a free and just democratic society? Or, will we embrace the politics of reversal and retreat; the super rich against the wretchedly poor, the tremendously strong against the miserably weak?”66 The bill extended the act’s major provisions for 25 years. It also established a procedure by which jurisdictions that maintained a clean voting rights record for at least a decade could petition a panel of judges to be removed from the preclearance list. The bilingual election materials requirements established in the 1975 act were also enacted for another decade. Mickey Leland, who succeeded Representative Jordan in her Houston-centered district, addressed the House in Spanish to make a point about the need for extending those provisions. “Many of you cannot understand me,” Leland said in Spanish, “and if you cannot understand me…nor can you understand 17 percent of all the adult workers in the Southwest.…And even though you cannot understand me when I speak Spanish maybe you can begin to understand the hypocrisy of our political system which excludes the participation of Hispanic-Americans only for having a different culture and speaking a different language.”67
Most significant, the Voting Rights Act of 1982 established that certain voting rights violations could be proven to be the result of voting modifications, even if intent could not be established. That section of the bill overturned a 1980 Supreme Court decision in Mobile v. Bolden (446 U.S. 55) that found a violation could be proven only if the intent to discriminate could be substantiated. This legislative instrument provided the basis for a round of creating majority-black districts following the 1990 Census, particularly in southern states.
Another primary area of legislative concern for numerous African-American Members of this generation was the desire to promote economic opportunities for blacks as a means to further the political civil rights advances won in the 1960s. Economic disparities among racial groups remained a problem throughout this time period. One of Congress’s strongest supporters of urban economic aid, Representative Floyd Flake of New York noted, “We in America have created a Third World within our borders, if we conglomerate all of the rural and all of the urban communities in this Nation who are not able to provide the basic necessities for people who are part of those communities.”68 For instance, from 1980 to 1990 the unemployment rate for blacks was more than double that of whites. Throughout that decade, the median income for African Americans constituted just 60 percent of the median income for whites.69 Many of the Members profiled in this generation supported an array of programs to advance African-American economic equality, including job training programs, urban renewal projects, affirmative action programs, and “empowerment zones” (urban and rural areas designated to receive federal grants and loans for job training and tax incentives for minority-owned businesses). At times these positions were championed by the CBC; at others, individual Members acted as policy entrepreneurs.
The CBC consistently made the economic advancement of African Americans a top priority in its legislative agenda. For example, the caucus strongly backed the extension of the Office of Economic Opportunity programs under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 (P.L. 88–452).70 From 1974 to 1975, Gus Hawkins and Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota drafted a measure to drastically cut unemployment in the United States, which reached 8 percent among the general population and more than 13 percent for nonwhites by the mid-1970s.71 Concerned about the disproportionate joblessness rate for African Americans, each member of the CBC cosponsored the Humphrey–Hawkins Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978 (P.L. 95–523).72 Among its provisions, the act declared the federal government’s intention to promote full employment, real income gains, price stability, and a balanced budget. Signed into law on October 28, 1978, the final version of the bill failed to include the more ambitious full employment goals drafted by Humphrey and Hawkins, leading some analysts to describe the legislation as “an empty symbol.”73 But the CBC’s ability to persuade President James Earl (Jimmy) Carter to publicly support a bill linked so closely to the caucus resulted in a noteworthy victory.74 “We would never have struggled so hard to get this act passed if we did not consider it significant,” declared Representative Parren Mitchell.
Mitchell, the brother of longtime NAACP lobbyist Clarence Mitchell, Jr., used a networking strategy to help push legislation aimed at business development in African-American communities through the House. Primarily interested in promoting economic opportunities in inner cities, Mitchell assembled a “brain trust” of national advisers (mostly businessmen, lawyers, bankers, and economists) to make recommendations on policy and legislation.75 The CBC embraced this approach, often calling upon subject experts for assistance in crafting legislation. Mitchell also employed his encyclopedic knowledge of House procedures—another facet of effective representation that many CBC Members refined during the period to promote the organization’s legislative agenda. Called the “Little General” for his ability to organize and coordinate support for key legislation, the Maryland Representative attached an amendment to a $4 billion public works program that required state and local governments applying for federal contracts to reserve 10 percent of the money for minority-owned companies.76 Signed into law in 1977, the measure constituted not only a personal triumph for Mitchell but also a significant early legislative victory for the CBC. That success lent credibility to the group’s coalition-building efforts and burnished its reputation for using House procedures to achieve its legislative goals.
During the 1970s the CBC sporadically presented budget proposals that emphasized increased spending for domestic programs. However, in 1981 the group answered President Ronald W. Reagan’s call for alternatives to his fiscal plan, which emphasized defense spending, by drafting their own detailed budget.77 The CBC plan received national attention but little backing in the House. As an annual offering of the period, the CBC alternative included a consistent call to increase federal funding for domestic programs, to slash defense spending, and to raise taxes for the wealthiest Americans. “Even in defeat we have a responsibility to fight the fight,” Dellums remarked about the persistent failure of an alternative annual budget to attract meaningful support in the House. “We have to articulate the alternative.”78
District of Columbia
Another issue of ongoing importance to black Members of Congress was the matter of representation and “home rule” (self-government) for the city of Washington, DC. Since its creation after the Residence Act of 1790, the capital had been administered by a patchwork of governing mechanisms: an appointed mayor and elected city council (both a board of aldermen and common council); briefly, a territorial government in 1871, when the city was designated the “District of Columbia”; a presidentially appointed commission; and congressional committees. After 1960, because of its new majority-black urban population, congressional debates about representation and the administration of the District resonated within the larger African-American community.
Fauntroy tirelessly advocated “home rule” in the District of Columbia. The CBC, seeking to increase the independence of the predominantly African-American population, joined him. Fauntroy oversaw a lobbying campaign aimed at building support from white Members who represented southern districts with a substantial black constituency. The effort prevailed. In December 1973, Congress passed a compromise measure—the District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act—that gave the District limited self-rule, permitting citizens to elect a mayor and a city council.80
Based partially on the success of the “Fauntroy strategy,” the CBC later created the Action-Alert Communications Network (AACN) to mobilize support from nonblack legislators on a range of policy issues affecting black Americans.81 Encompassing the National Black Leadership Roundtable and the Black Leadership Forum, the AACN tapped into a network of national black organizations suited for grass-roots campaigns capable of applying pressure on white leaders with large African-American populations. “We are organizing ourselves to impact the political process, to reach out on a very careful basis in coalition with those whose interests coincide with ours,” Fauntroy remarked.82
Other African-American Members played key roles in later decades. Julian Dixon, a District native who represented a Los Angeles-area district, became chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on the District of Columbia. During the 1980s and 1990s, Dixon was one of the city’s primary congressional allies during an era of budget woes. In 1991, after Fauntroy’s retirement from the House, Eleanor Holmes Norton won election as Delegate. An advocate for full congressional voting rights for the District, Norton has served as the District’s Delegate since then.
Some Members promoted policy positions that put them at odds with the majority of their CBC colleagues—either because they were required to balance the unique demands of their constituencies or because of their individual ideological beliefs. For instance, Mike Espy of Mississippi was elected from a farming district in the 1980s with considerable cross-over support from white voters, making him the first black Representative from that state in more than a century. His legislative agenda reflected the conservative ideological contours of his rural constituency. Consequently, Espy belonged to a group of centrist Democrats; he opposed gun control measures and supported the death penalty—positions that were largely contradictory to those of black Representatives from urban areas.
Welfare policy proved to be a contentious subject during the latter decades of the 20th century. The CBC often found itself in conflict with the Reagan administration during the 1980s. Reagan met only once with the CBC—a marked reversal from the Carter administration, which, while it did not always back the organization’s initiatives, regularly consulted with African-American Members.83 At the heart of this struggle lay the CBC’s fundamental disagreement with President Reagan’s core agenda: vastly increasing the defense budget to outpace the Soviets in a climactic Cold War arms race while scaling back social programs established in the 1960s.
After many decades of near-exclusive Democratic Party affiliation among African Americans, three black Republican Members were elected to the House: Delegate Melvin Evans of the Virgin Islands (1979–1981), Representative Gary Franks of Connecticut (1991–1997), and Representative J. C. Watts (1995–2003). During his brief tenure in the House, Delegate Evans made history by becoming the first Republican member of the CBC. Franks, the first Republican African-American Representative elected to the House since Oscar De Priest, joined the CBC in the 102nd Congress (1991–1993). His contentious relationship with the organization revealed a new dynamic of conflicting partisan affiliations in the CBC. From its inception, the overwhelmingly Democratic organization billed itself as being nonpartisan, but the CBC denied Franks access to strategy sessions, and some individual members complained his presence undermined their mission. Franks eventually opted to skip CBC meetings, though he refused to resign.88 Watts chose not to join the group.
African-American Members of Congress often used their influence to pass legislation commemorating great leaders and seminal events in the civil rights movement and to call attention to unrecognized black contributions to American history. Such efforts included the designation of February as Black History Month and, in the 1990s, the awarding of Congressional Gold Medals to distinguished African-American citizens. Some African-American Members also called for Congress to apologize for the institution of slavery and to study remedies, including reparations, for the harm done to blacks by slavery and subsequent racial discrimination.89
Freshman Representative Katie Hall of Indiana, chairwoman of the Post Office and Civil Service’s Subcommittee on Census and Population—the panel with jurisdiction over the bill—provided the necessary spark in the 98th Congress (1983–1985) when the CBC tapped her to introduce the legislation and to serve as the floor manager. Hall courted detractors by moving the proposed public holiday from a fixed date—King’s January 15 birthday—to the third Monday of January to prevent government offices from opening twice in one week, thereby saving money.94 The House passed her version of the King holiday bill by a vote of 338 to 90; the Senate followed suit, 78 to 22. President Reagan, who initially opposed the legislation, signed the bill into law on November 2, 1983.95 Some viewed the episode as a symbolic victory, but it constituted an important triumph for the CBC, which marshaled public support and exerted decisive institutional pressure to overcome an unsupportive President and also organized opposition in the Senate.
African-American Members also undertook numerous other efforts to recognize civil rights icons and distinguished public figures. In 1977, singer Marian Anderson became the first Black American to be awarded a Congressional Gold Medal—the highest honor the nation can bestow on outstanding citizens.96 Representative Julia Carson of Indiana played a central role securing legislation to recognize Rosa Parks, whose act of civil disobedience (refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955) galvanized the modern civil rights movement. Additionally, Congress conferred an unprecedented honor on Parks by passing a resolution to have her body lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda from October 30 to 31, 2005—a distinction normally reserved for Presidents, military leaders, and other statesmen. Parks was the first woman ever accorded this honor.97
In the 21st century, African-American Members of Congress pressed successfully for greater recognition of blacks’ contributions to congressional history in the art of the Capitol. Portraits of pioneering Representatives Joseph Rainey of South Carolina and Shirley Chisholm, as well as Senator Blanche K. Bruce of Mississippi, were commissioned. Congress also created a task force to document the work of enslaved African Americans who labored to build the Capitol itself.
Foreign Policy: Africa and Apartheid
Since the 1950s, black Members of Congress perceived the Cold War through a complex frame of reference. Even the most outspoken Members, such as Adam Clayton Powell, broadly endorsed the Cold War containment strategy and the necessity to combat communist international aggression. But African Americans were keenly aware of the gap between American rhetoric about the necessity to defend democratic freedoms abroad and the practice of racial segregation at home. Further, they questioned Washington’s generous support for authoritarian regimes abroad, particularly in sub-Saharan African nations emerging from the yoke of decades of European imperialism. In the post-1970 period, leading African-American Members of Congress questioned the massive budgetary outlays that funded America’s decades-long struggle against the Kremlin.98 Representatives Dellums and Mitchell warned that excessive spending on Cold War initiatives was especially detrimental to minority groups, postponing or eliminating long-delayed domestic social programs and urban renewal projects. Dellums opposed the military buildup under the Reagan administration in the 1980s and sharply criticized nuclear weapons programs such as the MX missile—a land-launched weapon that could deliver multiple, independently targeted nuclear warheads when it re-entered the earth’s atmosphere.
No single foreign policy issue united African Americans in Congress more than their efforts to overturn the South African government’s system of apartheid, the strict segregation of the races that began in 1948 and was imposed by whites descended from colonial immigrants. Even before the formation of the CBC in 1971, Charles Diggs used his position as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa to call attention to racial discrimination in South Africa. Other black Members followed suit, and ending apartheid became a central policy concern. During the next 15 years the CBC oversaw a torrent of activism to enact economic sanctions against South Africa.
According to political scientist Alvin Tillery, Representative Powell kindled Diggs’s interest in African foreign policy.99 Diggs, who became the first black Member to travel to Africa (1957) and the first to serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee (1959), was known as “Mr. Africa” because of his knowledge of Sub-Saharan issues. When the Detroit-area Representative was appointed chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa in 1969, he effectively used his position to draw attention to the continent. “I think if I had any one priority, it is to try to put Africa in proper perspective, to try to get the attention of policy makers in the government, the attention of the American investors in Africa and the attention of the American public, in general, and to arouse the substantive interest of black Americans,” Diggs remarked.100
Diggs held a series of hearings on South Africa and led many fact-finding missions during his tenure on the Foreign Affairs Committee to highlight what he described as “an appalling amount of racial injustice in South Africa—a blatant, ever-present, and all-pervasive discrimination based on race, color, and creed.”101 From 1969 to 1971, he led an unsuccessful charge against the renewal of a special U.S. sugar quota for South Africa. “I have been in over 37 African countries, and the first question that is always asked at a press conference is when we are going to implement our pronouncements in the United Nations, and stop being inconsistent, by providing this kind of subsidy to South Africa, which is one of the most racist countries in the world.”102 Diggs cosponsored legislation calling for an end to the subsidy.103 He also kept apartheid in the congressional spotlight with his criticism of the labor conditions of American companies in South Africa. He faulted the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and major U.S. carmakers for the discriminatory practices in their South African facilities. In 1971 he introduced a measure to implement fair employment practices for U.S. firms eligible for government contracts. Diggs also urged an end to new American investment in South Africa to protest apartheid.104
With the establishment of the CBC in 1971, Diggs cultivated the group’s international agenda. “Diggs being the great leader that he was reckoned that getting us involved in foreign policy would make a big splash on the Hill,” Representative Clay recalled.105 The CBC adopted this strategy to lend credibility to the fledgling caucus, and from its inception, the CBC took an active stance in the anti-apartheid movement.106 In February 1971, Ronald Dellums introduced the first legislation for U.S. economic sanctions against South Africa, on behalf of the CBC.107 Though the measure had little chance of passing the House, Dellums recollected, “Nonetheless, we had raised the issue before the elected representatives of the American people, and our resolution provided an organizing device for those on the outside to use to begin to build pressure on Congress for legislative action.”108 The anti-apartheid bill emerged from a petition drafted by employees from a major U.S. camera and film company, who demanded that the corporation cease operations in South Africa. Responsible for producing photographs for the mandatory identity passbooks carried by blacks in South Africa—a major symbol of the racial oppression prevalent in the country—the corporation eventually bowed to public pressure and withdrew its business.109
In 1975, the CBC helped establish the Black Forum on Foreign Policy, a legislative support group interested in better representation of black interests abroad. The Black Forum’s early mission epitomized a “detached study group” rather than a formal lobbying assembly.110 At a 1976 CBC conference, caucus members recognized the need for a more influential vehicle to shape American foreign policy in Africa and the Caribbean. The new lobbying group, renamed TransAfrica, began operations in Washington, DC, in 1978. TransAfrica employed a grass-roots strategy that mobilized local black leaders who were interested in foreign policy. The group also adopted an aggressive posture on South Africa, refusing to accept donations from U.S. corporations with business ties to South Africa and calling for tough economic sanctions against the African nation.111
TransAfrica received a boost when Representative Andrew Young, one of the primary architects of the Black Forum on Foreign Policy, resigned from Congress in 1977 to accept President James Earl (Jimmy) Carter’s appointment as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Young became a conduit for black lobbyists to the Oval Office. But while TransAfrica advocated a boycott by American businesses in South Africa, Young and the Carter administration maintained that promoting U.S. economic involvement in South Africa would have a liberalizing effect on the white-controlled regime.112 At the time, the internal resistance movement against apartheid had been sparked by the Soweto uprising of June 1976. When students gathered for a mass protest to oppose a new government regulation that instructors teach school in Afrikaans, the government brutally dispersed protestors; in the ensuing riots, hundreds were killed, including many children. The event shocked international observers and initiated a long period of internal turmoil in South Africa.
In 1981, the Reagan administration implemented a policy of “constructive engagement,” or maintaining diplomatic and economic relations with South Africa while advocating domestic reforms. Fearful that Reagan’s 1984 re-election would be interpreted as a mandate for the status quo of racial discrimination in South Africa, TransAfrica’s executive director Randall Robinson changed the tenor of the movement.113 On November 21, just weeks after the President’s landslide victory, Robinson, DC Delegate Walter Fauntroy, and Mary Frances Berry from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights staged a sit-in at the South African Embassy in Washington, DC.114 The resulting arrests of the high-profile protesters garnered national attention and sparked a new “direct action” approach by TransAfrica and the CBC. Fauntroy described the demonstration as an act of “moral witness” and indicated that a “national campaign” against apartheid would follow; a few days after the incident, Robinson, Fauntroy, and Berry formed the Free South Africa Movement (FSAM) to publicize racial inequality in South Africa and pressure the Reagan administration to toughen its stance toward the apartheid regime.115 The FSAM orchestrated a series of demonstrations outside the South African Embassy that tapped into the long domestic civil rights tradition of nonviolent protest. Charles Hayes of Illinois, Clay, and Dellums were among the first Representatives who were arrested. “I knew immediately why Fauntroy was calling,” Dellums remarked, recalling the coordinated effort by the FSAM to draw attention to South Africa. “’Hello, Walter’ I said. ’It’s a good day to go to jail. Where do you want me to be and what time?’ He laughed. ’How did you know?’ ’I just knew that it would one day be my turn, so when you called it was pretty easy to figure out why.’”116 The movement drew black and white Americans from all walks of life: national and local leaders, celebrities, teachers and students, and even Members of Congress who had been ambivalent about the issue. “It was very interesting to see colleagues from both sides of the aisle and of all races, who had previously paid little attention to our efforts, scramble to get arrested in front of the South African embassy and introduce sanctions when the [effects of the] movement hit home in their districts,” Dellums later observed.117 The protests, which eventually spread beyond the South African Embassy in Washington, DC, to other American cities, kept apartheid in the public eye.118
More than any other congressional cohort, African-American Members consistently drew attention to apartheid. Between the 92nd and 99th Congresses (1971–1987), black Representatives introduced more than 100 pieces of legislation concerning South Africa, encompassing issues such as diplomatic relations, economic sanctions, and trade restrictions.119 Representative Bill Gray, chairman of the House Committee on the Budget, compared the situation in South Africa to the history of segregation in the United States. “It took us 200, 300 years to eradicate apartheid here by law,” Gray observed. “People forget that only 20 years ago, when I came here to Washington, DC, as a boy, I couldn’t go into the downtown hotels.…We are only 20 years away from our own story, and that plays a part in our double standard” toward South Africa.120 In 1985, Gray introduced a bill endorsed by the House leadership banning new loans and implementing limited economic sanctions in South Africa to “stop the future financing of apartheid.”121 The House approved the Anti-Apartheid Act of 1985 by a vote of 295 to 127, but soundly defeated a stronger disinvestment substitute put forth by Representative Dellums and backed by the CBC. The next month the Senate overwhelmingly passed a weaker version of the House anti-apartheid bill by a vote of 80 to 12.122 Wary of the mounting public pressure for action against South Africa, the President avoided a direct confrontation with Congress and a potential veto override by signing an executive order in September that included some of the congressionally approved sanctions. Gray described the action as “an ill-disguised and ill-advised attempt to circumvent an overwhelmingly bipartisan consensus in Congress.”123
The push for a comprehensive sanctions bill against South Africa reached a crescendo in the second session of the 99th Congress. Gray’s anti-apartheid bill made it to the House Floor again for a vote, where it was expected to pass. For a second time, Dellums offered a substitute. In an unexpected move, the House approved Dellums’s measure by a voice vote. The bill called for a trade embargo and total disinvestment; it was the first legislation that mandated a withdrawal of American companies to pass either chamber. Elated and stunned, Dellums proclaimed, “We haven’t simply altered the debate on apartheid, we’ve changed the environment. Whatever the dynamics of that moment, its effect can’t be changed.”124 A Senate bill sponsored by Richard Lugar of Indiana, which passed 84 to 14, resembled Gray’s more modest anti-apartheid legislation. In the interest of securing passage of a sanctions bill, CBC members, including Dellums, supported Lugar’s measure, which passed the House in September 1986 by a 308 to 77 vote.125 President Reagan vetoed the anti-apartheid legislation, but on October 2, 1986, the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act (CAAA) of 1986 became law when the Senate overrode the veto, following the House.126 The historic legislation marked the first congressional override of a presidential veto on a major foreign policy issue since the enactment of the War Powers Resolution in 1973.127 Mickey Leland observed, “This is probably the greatest victory we’ve ever experienced. The American people have spoken and will be heard around the world.”128
After the passage of the CAAA, black Members continued their fight to abolish apartheid. In 1986, for instance, Gray led a delegation of Representatives to tour South Africa and observe the effects of the sanctions.129 Leading the anti-apartheid movement on the Hill, Dellums persisted in introducing legislation for comprehensive economic sanctions.130 When President George H. W. Bush considered rescinding sanctions against South Africa, Dellums and the CBC remained firm in their conviction that “sanctions should be lifted only when the oppressed people of South Africa say they should be lifted.”131 With the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990 and the establishment of majority rule in South Africa in 1994, the CBC achieved its longtime goal of contributing to the abolishment of apartheid.132
60Swain, “Changing Patterns of African-American Representation in Congress”: 132–133.
61For a detailed legislative history, see “Congress Clears Voting Rights Act Extension,” Congressional Quarterly Almanac, 94th Congress, 1st Session, 1975, Volume 1 (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, 1976): 521–532. For a listing of major civil rights bills, see Appendix J, Constitutional Amendments and Major Civil Rights Acts of Congress Referenced in the Text.
62Representative Barbara Jordan was instrumental in sponsoring a bill to expand the definition of literacy tests to include election registration materials printed only in English in areas with large non-English-speaking populations—in the case of her Houston district, Hispanics. “I am persuaded that the only means available to language minority citizens, and specifically Mexican-Americans in Texas, to gain equal access to the franchise is through application of the remedies of the Voting Rights Act.” See “Congress Clears Voting Rights Act Extension”: 525.
64Ibid., 527. See also Young’s floor remarks and statistics in the Congressional Record, House, 94th Cong., 1st sess. (2 June 1975): 16241–16242.
65For a legislative history of the bill, see “Voting Rights Act Extended, Strengthened,” Congressional Quarterly Almanac, 97th Cong., 2nd sess., 1982 (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 1983): 373–377.
66Congressional Record, House, 97th Cong., 1st sess. (5 October 1981): 23204.
67Ibid., 23187–23188. For comments by Cardiss Collins and Shirley Chisholm, see pages 23199–23201, 23202–23203.
68Congressional Record, House, 103rd Cong., 1st sess. (28 July 1993): H5431.
69U.S. Department of Commerce figures (1991) cited in Haynie, African American Legislators in the American States: 20–21.
70Barnett, “The Congressional Black Caucus”: 40; Austin Scott, “Blacks Assail Nixon’s Budget,” 1 February 1973, Washington Post: A1; Paul Houston, “Black Caucus Assails Nixon Budget Cuts,” 1 February 1973, Los Angeles Times: 11.
71For U.S. unemployment rates in the post–World War II period, see “Table Ba583-596, Unemployment Rate, by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin: 1947–2000,” in Carter et al., eds., Historical Statistics of the United States, Volume 2: Work and Welfare: 95.
72Clay, Just Permanent Interests: Black Americans in Congress, 1870–1991: 95.
73Robert C. Smith, We Have No Leaders: African Americans in the Post-Civil Rights Era (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996): 187–210, quotation on page 206.
74Barbara Reynolds, “Carter Endorses Andy Young, Jobs Bill,” 1 October 1978, Chicago Tribune: 12; Paul Houston, “Black Congressmen, Carter Clash Over Employment Bill,” 27 October 1978, Los Angeles Times: B1; Singh, The Congressional Black Caucus: 86–90.
75Barnett, “The Congressional Black Caucus”: 43; Singh, The Congressional Black Caucus: 84.
76Shirley Washington, Outstanding African Americans of Congress (Washington, DC: U.S. Capitol Historical Society, 1998): 64; Thomas Goldwasser, “Liberal’s Liberal Mitchell Is Fiscal Conservative,” 15 September 1980, Washington Post: A1; Sandra Sugawara, “Retiring Mitchell Still Has Passion for Justice,” 1 December 1985, Washington Post: 37.
77Singh, The Congressional Black Caucus: 97.
78Tom Kenworthy, “Congressional Black Caucus Facing New Circumstances After 20 Years,” 17 September 1989, Washington Post: A22.
79For a historical overview of nonvoting Delegates, including Resident Commissioners, see Earl S. Pomeroy, The Territories of the United States, 1861–1980 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1969); Betsy Palmer, “Territorial Delegates to the U.S. Congress: Current Issues and Historical Background,” 6 July 2006, Report RL32340, CRS; R. Eric Petersen, “Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico,” 31 March 2005, Report RL 31856, CRS; Michael Fauntroy, “District of Columbia Delegates to Congress,” 4 April 2001, Report RS 20875, CRS. See also “At the Starting Gate for the Delegate Race,” 25 September 1970, Washington Post: A24. While the position of Delegate was previously reserved for territories that were likely to become states, the District of Columbia Act of 1970 launched a new trend, creating Delegates for areas without statehood on the legislative horizon: District of Columbia, 1970; U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam, 1972; and American Samoa, 1978. Currently, a Resident Commissioner represents Puerto Rico.
80“After 8 Years, House Will Weigh District of Columbia Home Rule,” 8 October 1973, New York Times: 22; “Home Rule Bill for Washington Signed,” 25 December, 1973, Los Angeles Times: 4.
81For more information on the AACN, see Charles E. Jones, “Testing a Legislative Strategy: The Congressional Black Caucus’s Action-Alert Communications Network,” Legislative Studies Quarterly 4 (November 1987).
82Singh, The Congressional Black Caucus: 156. For more on the establishment of the AACN, see Thomas A. Johnson, “Black Conferees Establish Network to Influence White Congressman,” 28 May 1979, New York Times: A7; William Raspberry, “A Black Voter Network,” 19 October 1981, Washington Post: A1.
83Singh, The Congressional Black Caucus: 93.
84“Top House Democrats Back ‘Workfare,’” 20 March 1987, Associated Press. The plan called for developing “a system requiring education, training, or work for many recipients. States would have to provide a minimum level of cash assistance, and child support collections would be strengthened.” Ford figured the program “would cost the federal government roughly $600 to $850 million in fiscal 1988 and about $2.5 billion when phased in fully.”
85“Floyd H. Flake,” Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 18 (Detroit, MI: Gale Research Inc., 1998) (hereinafter referred to as CBB); Jonathan P. Hicks, “Rep. Flake Breaks with Party to Back School Vouchers,” 12 March 1997, New York Times: B3.
86“Floyd H. Flake,” CBB; Terry M. Neal, “Ex-Lawmaker Refuses to be Boxed In; The Rev. Flake Left Congress to Pursue Urban Renewal Beyond Party Lines,” 10 January 1998, Washington Post: A1.
87Neal, “Ex-Lawmaker Refuses to be Boxed In.”
88Singh, The Congressional Black Caucus: 101; Jill Zuckman, “Black Republican Says Party Lags on Ending Preferences,” 6 August 1995, Boston Globe: 19; Tapper, “Fade to White.”
89Such proposals had been considered by Congress since the Reconstruction Era. See Garrine P. Laney, “Proposals for Reparations for African Americans: A Brief Overview,” 22 January 2007, Report RS20740, CRS.
90Douglas Reid Weimer, “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Commemorative Works and Other Honors Authorized by Congress,” 17 December 2007, Report RL 33704, CRS.
91Edward W. Brooke, Bridging the Divide: My Life (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2007): 178–179.
92Singh, The Congressional Black Caucus: 95.
93Mary Russell, “King Holiday Frustrated,” 6 December 1979, Washington Post: A6.
94Larry Margasak, “Courting Conservatives to Back King Holiday,” 14 August 1983, Associated Press.
95For a detailed account of the legislative history of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday, see Congressional Quarterly Almanac 1983 (Washington DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1983): 600–602. The federal holiday honoring King was first observed in 1986.
96Other black recipients followed, including sports legends, military heroes, and social activists such as boxer Joe Louis (1982), Olympic track and field gold medalist Jesse Owens (1987), General Colin Powell (1991), educator Dr. Dorothy Height (2003), and the Tuskegee Airmen (2006). The award also celebrated the contributions of civil rights leaders and icons Roy Wilkins (1984), the Little Rock Nine (1998), Rosa Parks (1999), and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his wife, Coretta Scott King (2004). See “Congressional Gold Medal Recipients,” available at http://clerk.house.gov/art_history/house_history/goldMedal.html; see also Stephen W. Stathis, “Congressional Gold Medals, 1776–2007,” 30 January 2008, Report RL30076, CRS.
97See Office of the Historian “Individuals Who Have Lain in State or in Honor,” available at http://history.house.gov/Institution/Lie-In-State/Lie-In-State/.
98The Center for Defense Information, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit, estimated that the total cost of the Cold War U.S. military budgets (excluding intelligence and foreign aid) exceeded $13 trillion (in 1996 dollars) from 1948 until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. See http://www.cdi.org/issues/milspend.html (accessed 15 February 2008).
99Alvin B. Tillery, Jr., “Foreign Policy Activism and Power in the House of Representatives: Black Members of Congress and South Africa,” Studies in American Political Development 20 (Spring 2006): 95–96.
100DuBose, The Untold Story of Charles Diggs: 76.
101Paul Dold, “U.S. Firms in South Africa: New Pressure,” 20 August 1971, Christian Science Monitor: 1.
102Congressional Record, House, 92nd Cong., 1st sess. (10 June 1971): 19110.
103Spencer Rich, “South Africa Sugar Quota Draws Fire,” 16 April 1969, Washington Post: A2. Diggs was not alone in the early battle to bring the issue of racial segregation in South Africa to the House Floor; Louis Stokes of Ohio introduced a measure to terminate the sugar quota during the 91st Congress (1969–1971), and William (Bill) Clay, Sr., of Missouri cosponsored a similar bill. When the House voted to extend the South Africa sugar quota in 1971, the CBC voiced its disapproval, characterizing the decision as “complicity with apartheid.” See David E. Rosenbaum, “Sugar Vote Voted by House, 229–128,” 11 June 1971, New York Times: 44.
104Jesse W. Lewis, “Diggs Presses Anti-Apartheid Bill,” 31 March 1972, Washington Post: A2; DuBose, The Untold Story of Charles Diggs: 129–133; Paul Dold, “U.S. Firms in South Africa: New Pressure”; Congressional Record, House, 92nd Cong., 2nd sess. (29 March 1972): 10931.
105Tillery, “Foreign Policy Activism and Power in the House of Representatives: Black Members of Congress and South Africa”: 93.
106For more on the CBC’s role in the anti-apartheid movement, see http://www.avoiceonline.org/aam/history.html (accessed 8 February 2008).
107Congressional Record, House, 92nd Cong., 2nd sess. (16 February 1972): 4247. In his memoirs, Dellums provides a detailed account of how he and Representative John Conyers met with Polaroid employees to discuss their petition and subsequently drafted a bill to terminate business interests in South Africa and other African countries with discriminatory policies. See Dellums and Halterman, Lying Down With the Lions: 122–124. According to the Congressional Record, Dellums and Conyers first introduced a sanctions bill in December 1971. The bill was re-introduced in February on behalf of the CBC. See Congressional Record, House, 92nd Cong., 1st sess. (15 December 1971): 47236.
108Dellums and Halterman, Lying Down With the Lions: 123; “Polaroid Cuts Off Goods to S. Africa,” 22 November 1977, Los Angeles Times: A1.
109“Polaroid Cuts Off Goods to S. Africa.”
110Robert K. Massie, Loosing the Bonds: The United States and Africa in the Apartheid Years (New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 1997): 405; Paula Stern, “Ethnic Groups: Shaping the Course of American Foreign Policy,” 10 January 1976, Washington Post: A15.
111Harold J. Logan, “A Black Political Group Set Up as Africa Lobby,” 21 May 1978, Washington Post: A18; “New Lobby of Blacks Will Seek to Influence U.S. Policy in Africa,” 22 April 1978, Washington Post: A9; Tillery, “Foreign Policy Activism and Power in the House of Representatives: Black Members of Congress and South Africa”: 100.
112David L. Hostetter, Movement Matters: American Antiapartheid Activism and the Rise of Multicultural Politics (New York: Routledge, 2006): 78–79. On a 1977 trip to South Africa, Young was quoted as saying, “I’m not advocating [a boycott] because to do so would be to interfere in your internal affairs. I’m a sophisticated diplomat and I wouldn’t want to do that.” Massie, Loosing the Bonds: 413. Young’s short tenure as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations ended with his resignation in 1979.
113Massie, Loosing the Bonds: 558–560.
114Eleanor Holmes Norton, then a Georgetown law professor, and Fauntroy’s eventual successor as DC Delegate, accompanied Fauntroy, Berry, and Robinson to the South African Embassy, but left before the group’s arrest to notify the press of the protest. Dorothy Gilliam, “DC Sit-In Led the Way,” 9 September 1985,” Washington Post: A1; “Capital’s House Delegate Held in Embassy Sit-In,” 22 November 1984, New York Times: B10.
115Massie, Loosing the Bonds: 558–560; Kenneth Bredemeier and Michael Marriott, “Fauntroy Arrested in Embassy,” 22 November 1984, Washington Post: 1; Courtland Milloy, “Blacks Form ‘Free S. Africa Movement,’” 24 November 1984, Washington Post: C1; “Capital’s House Delegate Held in Embassy Sit-In.”
116Dellums and Halterman, Lying Down With the Lions: 128.
117Quoted in Tillery, “Foreign Policy Activism”: 100.
118Karlyn Barker and Michael Marriott, “Protest Spreads to Other U.S. Cities,” 4 December 1984, Washington Post: A1; “New Tactics on South Africa,” 10 May 1986, New York Times: 8.
119According to the Congressional Record more than 100 bills and resolutions were introduced during this period. In some cases, Members introduced similar legislation on several occasions, thereby increasing this number. For example, Charles Diggs introduced a Joint Resolution entitled “A Joint Resolution to Protect United States Domestic and Foreign Policy interests by Making Fair Employment Practices in the South African Enterprises of United States Firms a Criteria for Eligibility for Government Contracts” seven times during the 93rd and 94th Congresses. In his article “Foreign Policy Activism and Power in the House of Representatives: Black Members of Congress and South Africa, 1968–1986,” political scientist Alvin Tillery writes that African-American Representatives introduced 12 bills on South Africa in the 91st Congress and 26 bills in the 92nd Congress. According to the Congressional Record, three bills on South Africa were introduced in the House during the 91st Congress, followed by eight in the House during the 92nd Congress. In addition, two bills were introduced in the Senate during the two Congresses. Of the 11 bills on South Africa in the House, five were sponsored by black Members. Many of the measures consisted of resolutions condemning the regime or requests urging the U.S. government to change its policy toward South Africa. Whereas the majority of legislation sponsored by CBC members never made it to the floor for a vote, a few resolutions passed the House. In the 95th Congress (1977–1979), for example, a concurrent resolution introduced by Cardiss Collins of Illinois “expressing concern about the recent acts of repression by the Government of the Republic of South Africa” passed the House. George Crockett of Michigan successfully sponsored the “Mandela Freedom Resolution” in 1984, calling for the release of the imprisoned South African leader; an identical resolution passed the Senate. Despite a low rate of success, the steady flow of legislation on South Africa that was put forth by African-American Representatives kept the issue of apartheid in the congressional spotlight. With a new sense of vigor spurred by the embassy demonstrations and increased violence in South Africa, black Members of Congress intensified their legislative effort to fight apartheid. According to Representative Clay, the CBC sponsored 24 bills concerning U.S. policy toward South Africa between 1985 and 1986. See Clay, Just Permanent Interests: Black Americans in Congress, 1870–1991: 281; Omang, “Rep. Crockett and the Volley From the Right.”
120Juan Williams, “Antiapartheid Actions Await Turn of Events; Rep. Gray Says U.S. Moves Depend Upon South Africa,” 28 September 1985, Washington Post: A7.
121Jonathan Fuerbringer, “House Votes Sanctions Against South Africa,” 6 June 1985, New York Times: A1.
122Bob Secter, “S. Africa Sanctions Passed by the Senate,” 12 July 1985, Los Angeles Times: A1.
123George da Lama and Dorothy Collin, “Reagan Slaps S. Africa’s Wrist,” 10 September 1985, Chicago Tribune: 1.
124James R. Dickenson, “Dellums: Exoneration Is His,” 20 June 1986, Washington Post: A17; Edward Walsh, “House Would Require U.S. Disinvestment From South Africa,” 19 June 1986, Washington Post: A1. Dellums provides a detailed account of the floor action concerning the anti-apartheid legislation in his memoirs, Lying Down With the Lions: 132–138.
125Typical protocol dictated that a conference report would be drafted as a compromise between the House and Senate bills. However, leaders from both chambers decided to adopt the Senate bill to avoid the possibility of a pocket veto by President Reagan. See Massie, Loosing the Bonds: 617–618; Dellums and Halterman, Lying Down With the Lions: 136–138.
126The Senate voted 78 to 21 and the House voted 313 to 83 to override the presidential veto. “Senate Overrides Reagan’s Veto Sanctions 78 to 21,” 2 October 1986, Los Angeles Times: A1; Edward Walsh, “House Easily Overrides Veto of South African Sanctions,” 30 September 1986, Washington Post: A1.
127“Hill Overrides Veto of South Africa Sanctions,” 1986 Congressional Quarterly Almanac (Congressional Quarterly Inc.: Washington, DC, 1987): 359.
128Desson Howe, “Cheers for Sanctions Vote,” 4 October 1986, Washington Post: G1.
129Allister Sparks, “6 Congressmen Begin Tour of S. Africa,” 8 January 1986, Washington Post: A1.
130E. A. Wayne, “Congress Considers Boosting Sanctions Against South Africa,” 5 November 1987, Christian Science Monitor: 3; Dellums wrote about his continued attempts to pass stricter sanctions against South Africa in his memoirs. See Dellums, Lying Down With the Lions: 138–148.
131Dellums, Lying Down With the Lions: 143. President Bush eventually lifted the majority of U.S. sanctions due to what he perceived as a “profound transformation” in the attempt to promote racial equality in South Africa. See Ann Devroy and Helen Dewar, “Citing S. Africa’s ‘Transformation,’ Bush Ends Most Sanctions,” 11 July 1991, Washington Post: A23.
132Scholars have yet to systematically examine the effect of the anti-apartheid campaign on the CBC’s institutional powers: Did it gain legislative savvy and increased influence on other issues? Did it make any new congressional allies? Or did it achieve an expanded national prominence?