Latest News

Rubio, Wilson Applaud House Passage and Urge President to Sign the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act

Jul 27, 2020 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representative Frederica Wilson (D-FL) applauded the House for passage of the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act (S.2163/H.R. 1636), which will establish the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys. The Commission will be housed within the United States Commission on Civil Rights’ Office and is tasked with recommending policies to improve current government programs. The Senate unanimously passed S.2163 on June 25, 2020 and it now heads to the President for signature.
“Now more than ever, it is imperative that we take action to address the racial inequities that continue to plague our nation,” Rubio said. “America is more successful when its citizens have equal access to economic opportunity and prosperity, and this is particularly relevant for young black men. As we confront the challenges of the 21st century, we will need to rely on the talents and contributions of every American. I applaud the House for passing the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act, and I urge the President to sign it into law without delay. I was pleased to lead this legislation in the Senate, and I look forward to the work the Commission will do to address the racial and economic disparities affecting our communities today.”
“I am elated that this legislation, which I have been fighting for several years to pass, is now poised to become national law,” Wilson said. “The commission will review police brutality, gun violence, fatherhood, recruiting and training black male teachers, and even sneakers, which play an important role in the lives of black boys. Welfare reform and the 1994 crime bill, which includes the controversial three strikes provision and harsh sentencing guidelines, also will be revisited. These federal policies left a devastating impact on black men and boys in America. The commission’s underlying goal is to interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and to better understand and eventually eliminate the educational and social chasms that have made it extraordinarily difficult for black males to become upwardly mobile.”
“Perhaps the most dangerous issue facing black boys in our country is racism itself,” Wilson continued. “Too often they are perceived as criminals by the time they reach the age of five. They’re labeled delinquent, not rowdy. They are hardened criminals, not misguided youth. Their very existence is often seen as a threat. It is a tragic reality that black males in America are treated as their own class of citizens.” 
“The final passage of the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act is a little bittersweet for me because my dear friend and colleague, Congressman John Lewis, did not live to witness this landmark day,” Wilson added. “He was one of its fiercest advocates and devoted countless hours during my tenure in Congress to inspiring hundreds of boys who are members of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, a mentoring and dropout prevention program I founded 30 years ago. I am honor to share this legacy with him.” 
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 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.