Crafting An Identity on Capitol Hill

As African-American Members entered Congress during this era, they encountered an institution that, like American society generally, was becoming more accessible and offered more opportunities for minority participation. Though there were exceptions, the culture of overt racism of earlier decades—discrimination in the House Restaurant and barbershop, insulting floor tirades by pro-segregationist Members, and many other unspoken slights—had largely vanished. African-American Members focused on accruing seniority, winning better committee assignments, and gaining the attention and trust of House and Senate leadership. However, their ascent in Congress was accompanied by new challenges and questions about their identity and legislative strategies on Capitol Hill. 

Barbara Jordan/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_cont_4_jordan_barbara_dem_con_1976_lc-U9-32937-32A-33.xml Image courtesy of the Library of Congress In 1976, Barbara Jordan of Texas, a captivating public speaker, became the first woman and the first African American to deliver a keynote address at a Democratic National Convention.
Never a monolithic group, black Members of Congress became, if anything, more fragmented in the modern era because of their changing stature and growing numbers within the institution. While most black Members embraced their role as surrogate representatives, there was no consensus on how to pursue the legislation that was important to their broad constituency. “We all have basically the same goals,” Mickey Leland observed. “The question is how to attain those goals.”148Cardiss Collins, one of the few women members of the CBC in its early years, agreed: “Our main goal is to have greater influence. It’s that simple. When we represent black people in our districts, we are representing all black people because their needs are very similar.”149

Some, such as Barbara Jordan, chose an insider route that often took precedence over racial or gender issues. “I sought the power points,” she once said. “I knew if I were going to get anything done, [the congressional and party leaders] would be the ones to help me get it done.” Jordan was careful not to align herself too closely with the agenda of any special interest group, including the CBC and the Women’s Caucus, both of which she nevertheless joined. “I am neither a black politician nor a woman politician,” Jordan said in 1975. “Just a politician, a professional politician.” Her choice of seating in the House Chamber was revealing. Jordan chose to sit in the center aisle (away from the section customarily occupied by the CBC) because she could hear better, be seen by the presiding officer, and save a seat for colleagues who wanted to stop and chat. Her seating preference as well as her loyalty to the Texas delegation agitated fellow CBC members, but both were consistent with Jordan’s strategy for seeking congressional influence.150

Even those who were elected to Congress because they dissented from the prevailing political establishment set their sights on institutional goals, such as legislative success and leadership positions. Several Members adapted their activism to prevailing House norms. Elected to Congress to represent a district that included Oakland and Berkeley, California, the epicenter of the anti-Vietnam War movement, Ronald Dellums was a prime example. Soon after entering the House, he introduced legislation to investigate alleged U.S. war crimes in Southeast Asia, as well as a measure to impose penalties on the apartheid regime in South Africa. Dellums declared, “I am not going to back away from being called a radical. If being an advocate of peace, justice, and humanity toward all human beings is radical, then I’m glad to be called a radical.”151  

He worked his way onto the Armed Services Committee largely to try to curb vast Pentagon expenditures. Dellums was literally denied a seat at the table when he first joined that panel: In a blatant sign of contempt, committee chairman F. Edward Hébert of Louisiana made Dellums share a single seat with Patricia Schroeder of Colorado.152

But Dellums’s activism was tempered by the need to craft legislation through compromise. Contrary to his opponents’ expectations, Dellums forged a reputation as an effective coalition builder to achieve his legislative goals; for instance, he allied with fiscal conservatives to halt production of the controversial B-2 bomber in the early 1980s. In 1993, partially reflecting the degree to which the Bay Area Representative had mastered institutional politics, Dellums became the senior Democrat and assumed the chair of the Armed Services Committee. “If you are around the House long enough, you learn its rules and customs and come to understand that no point of principle is served by remaining a permanent outsider,” Dellums reflected in retirement. “My constituency, like any other, had sent me to Washington to legislate. I owed them nothing less than my best.”153

Other Members of this generation followed a similar trajectory. For instance, Delegate Walter Fauntroy drew upon his experience in the civil rights movement and as a community activist in Washington, DC, to develop effective coalitions in the House on issues ranging from apartheid to home rule in the District of Columbia; he eventually chaired more than a half-dozen House subcommittees.154 As supporters, and in some cases, participants, in the civil rights movement, many of the founding members of the CBC initially believed that working outside the system—following Powell’s militant example during his House career—would best serve African Americans. But gradually it became apparent that working with House leaders, particularly with high-ranking Democratic Members, could produce measurable and substantive results. Mickey Leland, a self-described “revolutionary,” explained that many of his black colleagues could now bargain for legislative goals from a position of strength. “We understand that in order to get our point across we don’t have to jump up and down on the table or shoot off fireworks to get the attention of the leadership,” Leland remarked. “We go in and negotiate.”155

Over time, black Members forged alliances with congressional groups with similar policy goals. “The technique now is coalitions,” Julian Dixon remarked in the 1980s. “I don’t think we want to stand alone on the issues. The numbers tell us we won’t be successful.”156 Representative Schroeder, a cofounder of the Women’s Caucus, acknowledged the necessity for cooperative efforts among minorities in Congress during the 1980s: “It seemed that the three chairpersons of the women’s, black and Hispanic caucuses have been sewn together around issues of equal concern, such as hunger, the feminization of poverty, the extension of the Voting Rights Act and the reauthorization of the civil rights commission.”157

The electoral success of African-American politicians in the latter half of the 20th century resulted in a more diverse CBC membership. New black Members, including more women and Members from southern states, altered the gender and the geographic composition of the caucus. The founding members of the CBC largely represented urban and industrial districts in California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Ohio. But the influx of Members from rural and suburban districts brought new ideas and new people to the caucus.158 And new Members won new committee assignments to match the issues in southern and rural districts, such as support for the space industry and tobacco farmers.159 Representative Eva M. Clayton of North Carolina, for example, sought a position on the Agriculture Committee to advocate for legislation that would help farmers in her rural district.160 By the 115th Congress, CBC members came to Capitol Hill from districts across the nation, including nine Southern states.

The growing number of African-American women Members established a strong tradition as visible legislators and leaders, particularly in the House. Shirley Chisholm campaigned for the presidency and served as Democratic Caucus Secretary. Barbara Jordan played a prominent part in the investigation of President Richard Nixon and Watergate from her position on the House Judiciary Committee. African-American women Members of Congress also advocated for issues important to African-American and other minority women across the nation. Shirley Chisholm, for instance, was outspoken in defense of family planning programs and preserving access to safe, legal abortion procedures.161 African-American women also played a prominent role in the growth of the CBC. Yvonne Burke was the first African-American woman to represent the state of California in Congress and the first to chair the CBC. In 1973 she became the first woman Member to give birth and the first to be granted maternity leave while serving in Congress. In 1997 Maxine Waters became the first woman elected to head the CBC since Cardiss Collins held the position in the 96th Congress (1979–1981), indicating the growing influence of women in the caucus. In the subsequent decade, Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas (107th Congress, 2001–2003), Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick of Michigan (110th Congress), Barbara Lee of California (111th Congress, 2009–2011), and Marcia Fudge of Ohio (113th Congress, 2013–2015) also chaired the CBC.162 Finally, the overall number of black women in Congress grew modestly during this period, reaching significant milestones in the last 25 years. In the 104th Congress, the number of African-American women in the House finally surpassed 10. By the 116th Congress, there were 25 African-American women serving in Congress—the highest total in American history.

Conflicting Imperatives: The CBC, Black Interests, and Party Agenda

Ronald Dellums and Bella Abzug/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_cont_4_dellums_abzug_press_conference_howard.xml Image courtesy of Moorland–Spingarn Research Center, Howard University In this 1971 photograph, freshman House Members and outspoken peace advocates Ronald Dellums of California (center) and Bella Abzug of New York (in hat, at Dellums’s left), speak to reporters about their proposal to conduct an unofficial inquiry into alleged U.S. war crimes in Vietnam. Two years later, at the insistence of House leaders who overrode Chairman F. Edward Hébert of Louisiana, Dellums earned a seat on the House Armed Services Committee, which had jurisdiction over every facet of the defense establishment.
By the end of the 1980s, the CBC had difficulty sustaining the collective voice envisioned by its founders in 1971. Although most black Members still represented majority-black districts, the swelling membership of the caucus and the diverse opinions of its individual members resulted in internal divisions.163 Still, the group managed to focus on the common goals of opposing racism and backing equal opportunity. “Like coalition building in any context, holding the Black Caucus together required fluidity and flexibility, the constant search for common ground, and no rigid tests of membership,” Representative Dellums later noted, “otherwise the fate of other caucuses and coalitions that had arisen during the same period would have befallen the CBC as well.”164

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 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 largely contradicted those of black Representatives from urban areas. While the institutional headway made by African-American Members during the 1970s and 1980s strengthened the collective authority of the CBC, it posed new challenges to the cohesiveness of the organization. Its success advancing black Representatives into the upper echelons of the institutional establishment raised expectations for the group and for individual Members to produce immediate, tangible results for African Americans. Moreover, some black Members began to experience conflicting pressures between their allegiance to the CBC, their responsibilities on committee, and their debt to the Democratic leaders who had placed them in positions of power.165

This theme recurs throughout the service of this generation of African Americans in Congress. The career of Representative Bill Gray provides an illustrative example. As chairman of the House Budget Committee for the 99th and 100th Congresses (1985–1989), Gray asserted his independence: “I am not here to do the bidding of somebody just because they happen to be black. If I agree with you, I agree with you. I set my policy.”166 Once he rose to the chairmanship of the Budget Committee, Gray encouraged the CBC to continue submitting an alternative budget, although he did not publicly support it. His decision to vote “present” when the CBC measure came to the House Floor disrupted the public solidarity of the organization and angered some of his black colleagues, who thought Gray was placing personal interests ahead of caucus goals.167 Similarly, Julian Dixon, who chaired the CBC in the 98th Congress, refused to bring the Caucus’s alternative budget to the House Floor for a vote. In addition to leading the CBC, Dixon also chaired an Appropriations subcommittee, and House leaders asked him to pledge his support for the Budget Committee’s budget proposal to attract the votes of rank-and-file Democrats for the measure. Knowing he could extract some concessions for his support, Dixon agreed. “Our purpose, hopefully, is not to go down to defeat with honor,” he explained. “Our purpose is to have some success.”168  

Harold Ford, Sr./tiles/non-collection/b/baic_cont_4_ford_harold_sr_nara_pse-83-2518.xml Image courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration Elected to the House at age 29, Harold Ford, Sr., of Tennessee later became one of the youngest Members ever to chair a subcommittee on Ways and Means. He left his position as chairman amid legal problems, but regained his seniority and chairmanship after his acquittal.
In 1992, with the election of the second Democratic President during the CBC’s history, William J. (Bill) Clinton, political commentators believed the group would be able to advance a broad legislative agenda. Yet, much as with President Carter, the CBC was often at odds with the Clinton administration, particularly because of its willingness to compromise with conservatives on Capitol Hill.169 Many black Members dissented from key administration policies, such as portions of the 1993 Clinton budget, the North American Free Trade Agreement, relations with Haiti, and the controversial nomination (and then withdrawal) of civil rights scholar Lani Guinier for Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Civil Rights. However, the CBC’s clout ensured that the President seriously considered the group’s point of view and often consulted the caucus regarding policy affecting African Americans.170

After the Republicans won control of Congress in 1995—and a majority in the House for the first time in 40 years—the CBC’s legislative momentum and hard-fought institutional gains dissipated. The institutional structure of the House, which favors the majority, relegated all Democratic Representatives, regardless of race, to a secondary role. Despite the party change, many members of the caucus promised to continue their mission. “The Congressional Black Caucus has got to yell louder and scream or be steamrollered,” asserted Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, epitomizing the pitched partisanship during the latter half of the decade.171

Some, such as Representative Floyd Flake, a minister representing a constituency in Queens, New York, staked out independent positions that facilitated bipartisan cooperation with the new Republican majority. In 1997 Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia convinced Flake to cosponsor the Community Renewal Act, which attempted to use tax breaks and private school vouchers to improve poor, urban neighborhoods. Flake’s fellow Democrats harshly criticized this decision.172 “We get caught up in group-thought ideology, and we think that we all have to think alike, speak alike, say the same things, do the same things,” Flake observed after abruptly resigning from the House to return to the ministry. “I am beyond race and party now.”173

The change in party control—largely the result of southern white Democrats in the House being replaced by an insurgent Republican Party in the South—had ancillary benefits for black Members. In the minority Democratic Party, black Members now represented a larger percentage of the Democratic Caucus.174 Given the relative electoral safety of their districts, this increase helped boost black legislators into party leadership roles as they collectively accounted for greater percentages of the more experienced cadre of House Democrats.175

In the last 40 years a small but significant cohort of black Republican Members joined the House after many decades of near-exclusive Democratic Party affiliation among African Americans. Seven black Republican Members have been elected to the House since 1970, and this generation of black Republicans was ideologically distinct from their distant predecessors during Reconstruction.176 During his brief tenure in the House, Delegate Melvin Evans of the Virgin Islands (1979–1981) made history by becoming the first Republican member of the CBC. Representative Gary Franks of Connecticut (1991–1997) was the first Republican African-American Representative elected to the House since Oscar De Priest in 1929. He 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.177 In 2014 Mia Love of Utah became the first African-American Republican woman elected to Congress. Love and Allen West of Florida chose to become CBC members, while their GOP colleagues J. C. Watts, William Hurd of Texas, and Tim Scott of South Carolina declined to join the caucus. 

Investigations, Corruption, and Race

Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_cont_4_kilpatrick_tuskegee_gold_medal_2007_03_29_198-dlb.xml Image courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives Photography Office Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick of Michigan presented the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II with the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007. In the 110th Congress, Congresswoman Kilpatrick chaired the CBC.
Concerns about public corruption became commonplace in the post-Watergate era as the number of Americans who trusted their government declined. That distrust was magnified by a growing adversarial relationship between the press and public officials. Throughout this period, a number of African-American officeholders, including a significant number of black Members of Congress, observed that federal investigations into political corruption unfairly targeted black politicians.178 This perception may have been partially due to an increase in the total number of corruption probes conducted by the federal government, which soared more than 2,300 percent between 1970 (63) and 1991 (1,452).179 Additionally, the number of black officials who held public positions increased from 1,469 in 1970 to 6,681 in 1987. Nevertheless, African-American officials seemed disproportionately targeted. One study found that of the 465 political corruption probes initiated by the Justice Department between 1983 and 1988, 14 percent investigated black officeholders—even though they represented just 3 percent of all U.S. officeholders.180  

CBC Meets with President Clinton/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_cont_4_cbc_with_clinton_21_July_1993_clinton_library_P5747-22.xml Image courtesy of William J. Clinton Library/National Archives and Records Administration In June 1993, the CBC met with President William J. (Bill) Clinton. Though the CBC agreed with Clinton on many issues, the group sometimes was critical of the Democratic President because of his willingness to compromise with conservative lawmakers on efforts to reduce the federal budget deficit by curtailing entitlement programs.
Black Members of Congress often believed they were the targets of such investigations, asserting that they were singled out for scrutiny on racial grounds and were held to higher standards than their white counterparts. Some interpreted such scrutiny as a coordinated effort to silence black officeholders by “diluting [their] influence and credibility.”181 Representative Bill Clay Sr. maintained that the legal problems encountered by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Harold Ford Sr. were examples of a “pattern” of investigatory practices and “harassment.”182 From 1981 to 1993, roughly half the members of the CBC were the subjects of federal investigations or indictments, though few were convicted.183 Bill Clay Sr. claimed that federal investigations and political corruption probes into the careers and personal lives of black officeholders were often part of a longstanding “conspiracy to silence dissent.” According to Clay, business and “elite” interests—using government, judicial, and law enforcement mechanisms as well as a pliant press—sought to ruin the reputations of those who spoke out about racial, economic, or social inequality.184 Some political observers did not fully agree with that viewpoint. “There is no question there is real racism in our country,” said African-American journalist Juan Williams in 1987, but he added, “Unfortunately, it is not the case that racism explains all charges of corruption.” Some prominent black officials, such as then Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder and Representative John Lewis, publicly disputed the conspiracy viewpoint. An official from a black political organization succinctly described the relationship between the new role black legislators had in the political process and the increased scrutiny by public officials: “White folks are in a fishbowl; they get to swim. Black folks are in a test tube; they have to go straight up or down.”185

Within Congress, African-American Members were appointed to chair the House Standards of Official Conduct (Ethics) Committee more often than any other congressional panel.186 In the 1980s and 1990s, respected insiders such as Representatives Stokes and Dixon led the Ethics Committee. Dixon led a highly sensitive investigation into alleged standards violations by Speaker Jim Wright of Texas. The scandal with the strongest effect on black Members during this era occurred in 1992 when the press publicized General Accounting Office and House internal investigations revealing that dozens of lawmakers (some 220 former and current Members) had overdrawn their accounts at the informal House “Bank” run by the House Sergeant at Arms. Nine African-American Members revealed that they had written checks without sufficient funds, and five were on the list of the “worst offenders” that was released by the House Ethics Committee.187 The occurrence of the scandal in an election year, with the economy in recession, magnified voters’ discontent with incumbents. However, only one black incumbent, Charles Hayes, lost his primary re-election campaign in the Chicago district he had represented for a decade; his name appeared on a list that was leaked days before the contest.188

In the last 20 years, a disproportionate percentage of African-American Members continued to be under investigation by the House Ethics Committee.189 While many of these ethics inquiries were dismissed, some resulted in serious charges. In 2010 the House voted to censure Representative Charles Rangel for ethics violations, and he was forced to abdicate the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee.190Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned in 2012 after allegations of ethics violations; he later pleaded guilty and was imprisoned for misusing campaign funds.191 Many African-American Members questioned the committee’s investigative choices, calling for a fair application of ethics standards to all Members, regardless of race or party.192 As in the preceding generation, however, African Americans who faced such investigations or congressional disciplinary actions enjoyed unusually strong loyalty from their constituencies.

Next Section

Footnotes

148Cohadas, “Black House Members Striving for Influence”: 680.

149“A Time of Testing for Black Caucus as Its Members Rise to Power in House,” 27 April 1985, National Journal: 911.

150See Fenno, Going Home: 106–109.

151Ray Mosley, “Violence Disavowed by Rep. Dellums,” 14 February 1971, Washington Post: 113.

152Dellums and Halterman, Lying Down With the Lions: 149–150.

153Ibid., 175.

154Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives, “Black Americans Who Have Chaired Subcommittees of Standing Committees in the U.S. House and Senate, 1885–Present,” https://history.house.gov/Exhibitions-and-Publications/BAIC/Historical-Data/Black-American-Chairs-of-Subcommittees/.

155Coleman, “Black Caucus Comes of Age.”

156Cohadas, “Black House Members Striving for Influence”: 681.

157Ruffin and Brown, “Clout on Capitol Hill”: 102.

158For more on changing southern representation in the late 20th-century Congresses, see Nelson Polsby, How Congress Evolves: Social Bases of Institutional Change (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).

159Jeremy Derfner, 27 March–10 April 2000, The American Prospect: 16. In his autobiography, Dellums discusses the growing diversity of the CBC during the 1990s and also reflects upon an incident in which he mistakenly assumed the CBC would back one of his proposals based on past experience. Dellums and Halterman, Lying Down With the Lions: 117–121.

160“The Honorable Eva M. Clayton Oral History Interview,” Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives, 15 May 2015: 21–22.

161Sally Quinn, “Abortions in the City,” 25 March 1970, Washington Post: B3.

162See Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives, “Congressional Black Caucus Chairmen and Chairwomen, 1971–Present,” https://history.house.gov/Exhibitions-and-Publications/BAIC/Historical-Data/Congressional-Black-Caucus/; Juliet Eilperin, “Black Caucus Taps Rep. Maxine Waters as New Chair; First Woman Since 1979,” 21 November 1996, Roll Call: 18.

163For example, while the CBC as a group publicly denounced the controversial North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993, nine members of the caucus voted in favor of the measure. Eight House Members from the CBC voted in favor of NAFTA in addition to the lone black Senator, Carol Moseley-Braun. See Singh, The Congressional Black Caucus: 183.

164Dellums and Halterman, Lying Down With the Lions: 120.

165Similar conflicts between individual aspirations and collective goals unfolded among women Members of Congress, often creating tension between the institutional apprenticeship generation of the 1940s and 1950s, who had attained leadership positions, and the feminist activists who followed them. See for example, Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives, Women in Congress, 1917–2006 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 2006): 3–5, 340–341, 546–547. Some outside critics of this transformation implied that the process amounted to a cooptation that marginalized the interests of the black community. Political scientist Robert C. Smith concluded in the mid-1990s that, “The institutional norms and folkways of the House encourage exaggerated courtesy, compromise, deference, and above all loyalty to the institution. And the black members of Congress are probably more loyal to the House and their roles in it than they are to blacks.” See Smith, We Have No Leaders: African Americans in the Post-Civil Rights Era: 225.

166Eric Pianin, “Black Caucus Members Face Dilemma of Hill Loyalties,” 23 September 1987, Washington Post: A1.

167Pianin, “Black Caucus Members Face Dilemma of Hill Loyalties”; Kenworthy, “Congressional Black Caucus Facing New Circumstances After 20 Years.”

168Richard Simon and Nick Anderson, “Respected Lawmaker Julian Dixon Dies,” 9 December 2000, Los Angeles Times: B1.

169For more on the CBC’s relationship with President Clinton, see Singh, The Congressional Black Caucus: 178–192. Clinton’s nearly 1,000-page memoirs contain no substantive policy discussion or debate involving the CBC. See Bill Clinton, My Life (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004).

170Ronald A. Taylor, “Congressional Black Caucus Displays Growing Clout,” 13 September 1993, Washington Times: A10; Adam Clymer, “Black Caucus Threatens Revolt on Clinton Budget,” 10 June 1993, New York Times: A22; “The Black Caucus,” 16 July 1993, Christian Science Monitor: 18. See also, for example, Brent Staples, “Wanted: A Million Black Republicans,” 21 June 1993, New York Times: A18; Max Boot, “Black Caucus Feels Left Out of Clinton Plans,” 30 June 1993, Christian Science Monitor: 1; Michael Wines, “Democrats Expect Tight Budget Vote,” 26 July 1993, New York Times: A12.

171John E. Yang, “Black Caucus Adjusts to New Political Scene,” 23 September 1995, Washington Post: A15.

172“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.

173Neal, “Ex-Lawmaker Refuses to be Boxed In.”

174For instance, in the 103rd Congress (1993–1995), after the landmark 1992 elections brought a record number of 40 black legislators to the House, African Americans constituted 15 percent of the House Democrats. In the following Congress, the 41 black Representatives accounted for 20 percent of the Democratic Caucus. See Mildred Amer, “Black Members of the United States Congress, 1870–2007,” 27 September 2007, Report RL30378, Congressional Research Service.

175For an early example of such analysis, see Alan Gerber, “African Americans’ Congressional Careers and the Democratic House Delegation,” The Journal of Politics 58 (August 1996): 831–845.

176Despite the small number of elected African American Republican Members of Congress, recent scholarship has explored the relationship between African Americans and the Republican Party beyond Washington, DC. See Leah Wright Rigueur, The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015) and Joshua D. Farrington, Black Republicans and the Transformation of the GOP (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016).

177Singh, 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.”

178See, for example, the chapter titled, “A Conspiracy to Silence Dissent,” in Clay, Just Permanent Interests: Black Americans in Congress 1870–1991: 312–338. For more on the subject, see George D. Musgrove, “The Harassment of Black Elected Officials: Race, Party Realignment, and State Power in the Post-Civil Rights United States,” PhD dissertation, New York University, 2005.

179Richard Sutch, “Table Ec1356–1370, Federal Prosecutions of Public Corruption: 1970–1996,” in Historical Statistics of the United States, vol. 5: Governance and International Relations, ed. Carter et al.: 331.

180Gwen Ifill, “Black Officials: Probes and Prejudice—Is There a Double Standard for Bringing Indictments? The Jury’s Still Out,” 28 February 1988, Washington Post: A9.

181Clay, Just Permanent Interests: Black Americans in Congress, 1870–1991: 314–337. For a countervailing viewpoint, see Ifill, “Black Officials: Probes and Prejudice.”

182Clay, Just Permanent Interests: Black Americans in Congress, 1870–1991: 82– 83, 332–334. Of the accusations made against Powell, writes Clay, they “could have been leveled against every chairman of every full committee in the House of Representatives. He did no more, and no less, than any other in terms of exercising traditional legal privileges that accompanied the powerful position of committee chairman. His private life, including intimate relations with numerous and glamorous women, was routine activity for many members of Congress, committee chairmen or not.”

183“Were Black Office-Holders More Routinely Investigated During the ’80s?,” 19 December 1993, Atlanta Daily World: 5.

184Clay, Just Permanent Interests: Black Americans in Congress, 1870–1991: 312–316, 335–337.

185For the Juan Williams quote, see Charles J. Abbott, “Panel Says Smear Tactics Used to Discredit Black Politicians,” 10 October 1987, New Pittsburgh Courier: 1. For “fishbowl” and “test tube,” see Ifill, “Black Officials: Probes and Prejudice.”

186Indeed, from 1981 forward, when Democrats controlled the House Chamber, African Americans led the Standards of Official Conduct Committee for all but one Congress. The black committee chairs were Louis Stokes (1981–1985; 1991–1993), Julian Dixon (1985–1991), and Stephanie Tubbs Jones (2007–2008).

187“The 22 Worst Offenders,” 17 April 1992, Los Angeles Times: A18; “List of Members of the House of Representatives Who Acknowledge Having Written Checks on Insufficient Funds at the House Bank,” 13 April 1992, Associated Press.

188“House Check-Kiter List Official: 2 Names Missing from Panel’s Record of Worst Abusers,” 2 April 1992, Chicago Tribune: 6.

189Shane Goldmacher, “Disparate Impact: Black Lawmakers and Ethics Investigations,” 3 March 2012, The Atlantic.

190David Kocieniewski, “Rangel Censured Over Violations of Ethics Rules,” 3 December 2010, New York Times: A1.

191Katherine Skiba, “Jacksons Guilty in Tale of Excess,” 21 February 2013, Chicago Tribune: 1.

192John Bresnahan, “Black Lawmakers Resentful After Conyers Resignation,” 5 December 2017, Politico.