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Rubio, Harris, Booker Introduce Legislation to Establish Commission Devoted to Uplifting Black Communities

Jul 22, 2019 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced legislation to establish the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys. The Commission would be housed within the United States Commission on Civil Rights’ Office and would recommend policies to improve current government programs. U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson (D-FL) introduced companion legislation (H.R. 1636) in the House.
“A lack of economic opportunity and prosperity for black men is a tragedy for our nation. The United States needs their talents to solve the challenges of our time.” Rubio said. “It is intolerable and unacceptable that many black men come to believe, often for good reason, that the American Dream is not available to them. I remain passionate about working to find a solution to these problems and am proud to join Senators Harris and Booker in introducing this important, bipartisan and bicameral legislation to establish the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys.”
“We must speak truth that slavery and our country’s long history of institutional racism continue to cause great pain and inequality toward communities of color—particularly Black males,” Harris said. “This bipartisan commission is just the start of a long overdue effort to confront the negative treatment Black men and boys face every day in America. I am proud to support.”
“Racial inequality for black men in our country has caused significant economic and social disparities and contribute to a racial wealth gap that ultimately harms all Americans. This commission will address the long-standing societal gaps that have harmed black men in America and lowered the prospect of upward mobility,” Booker said.  “It is encouraging to see the effort being taken to reverse course and ensure equality and justice.  I look forward to also having this discussion with respect to some of the alarming trends we’ve seen regarding the school-to-prison pipeline and black girls.”
Specifically, the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act establishes a commission to recommend policies to improve upon, or augment, current government programs. The bipartisan Commission, consisting of 19 members, will include Members of Congress, federal agency experts, and appointed subject issue area experts. The Commission will investigate potential civil rights violations affecting black males and study the disparities they experience in education, criminal justice, health, employment, fatherhood, mentorship and violence. The Commission will be responsible for producing an annual report to address the current conditions affecting black men and boys and make recommendations to improve the social conditions and provide vital guidance for Congress on effective strategies to reduce the racial disparities in education, criminal justice, health and employment. The report will be submitted to the President, Congress, members of the President’s Cabinet, and the chairs of the appropriate committees of jurisdiction, and be publicly available online on a centralized Federal website. The bill does not authorize any appropriations, and members of the Commission serve without compensation.
The bill is in line with the 2006 established Florida Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys, which Rubio worked on while in the state legislature, including appointing members as Speaker of the Florida House.