Origins of the CBC

CBC Group Photo
CBC Group Photo

Timeline

1960—Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1960. This legislation required election officials to have all records relating to voter registration. It also permitted the Department of Justice to inspect these records. Under this legislation, black Americans previously denied the opportunity to vote in their local jurisdictions were afforded the opportunity to apply to a federal court or voting referee for the right to vote.

August 6, 1965—President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law.  The act declares that throughout the nation no person shall be denied the right to vote on account of race or color. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed the requirement that voters take literacy tests to qualify for the right to vote. Other special provisions included the enforcement of this legislation in areas where there had been a history of racial discrimination.

1969—The number of black Americans in Congress had doubled from five during the 90th Congress (1967-1969) to ten during the 91st Congress (1969-1971).

1969Congressman Charles Diggs, Jr. (D-MI) proposed forming the Democratic Select Committee (DSC).

1970—The DSC requests a conference with President Richard Nixon, but is denied.

1971—The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is founded during the 92nd Congress (1971-1973). Founding members include Representatives Shirley A. Chisholm, William L. Clay, George W. Collins, John Conyers, Jr., Ronald V. Dellums, Charles C. Diggs, Jr., Augustus F. Hawkins, Ralph Metcalfe, Parren J. Mitchell, Robert N.C. Nix, Charles B. Rangel, Louis Stokes, and Washington D.C. delegate Walter E. Fauntroy

1971—The CBC boycotted President Nixon’s State of the Union Address.

March 1971—President Nixon agreed to a meeting with the CBC.

July 1971—The CBC began sponsoring national conferences on areas such as health, education, business, media and politics.

June 1972—The CBC delivered the preparation of the Black Declaration of Independence and Black Bill of Rights in Congress.

1970—Congress extended Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for five years.

1975—Congress extended Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for seven more years.

1975—CBC members began advocating for a Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday by increasing public knowledge of the bill and building support for this initiative.

1976—The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation was established. The CBCF sponsors programs under the leadership of some CBC members and other supporters. These initiatives focus on education, economic development, public health and African globalization programs. 

1976—The CBC Legislative Internship Program beganto address the under-representation of black professional staff on Capitol Hill. This program provides fellowships to black graduate students to equip them with the necessary training to pursue a career in public policy. September 1978—CBC members meet with President Jimmy Carter to discuss the Humphrey-Hawkins Bill (H.R. 50), which established the federal government’s responsibility to ensure full employment. When it was signed into law in October 1978, Carter credited the CBC for its role in the advocacy for this bill.

1981—The CBC achieved LSO (Legislative Service Organization) status. The House Committee on Administration prohibited LSO's from receiving outside funding, but they were allowed to establish tax exempt foundations to carry out research and other activities.

March 18, 1981—The CBC unveils the "Constructive Alternative Budget Proposal Initiative" in response to Reagan's budget for the 1982 fiscal year at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The CBC's alternative budget distinguishes it from all other caucuses.

1982—Congress extended Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for twenty-five years.

1983— The Congressional Black Caucus and Howard University Moorland-Spingarn Research Center (MSRC) and the Congressional Black Caucus entered into an agreement establishing the CBC Archives at MSRC. 

1983—The CBCF split the Legislative Internship Program into the Congressional Internship Program – a summer internship program for undergraduate students – and the Congressional Fellowship Program – a nine-month program for graduate students and young professionals.

November 3, 1983—President Ronald Reagan signed the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday into law.

1985—Congressman William Gray (D-PA), chairman of the Committee on Budget, introduced H.R. 1460, a bill that prohibited loans and new investment in South Africa and enforced sanctions on imports and exports with the nation.

October 1986Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 (H.R. 4868) became public law 99-440. This legislation called for sanctions against South Africa and stated preconditions for lifting the sanctions, including the release of all political prisoners. (Among these political prisoners was Nelson Mandela.) President Ronald Reagan attempted to veto the bill but was overridden. The override marked the first time in the 20th century that a president had a foreign policy veto overridden.

1992—The Voting Rights Language Assistance Act was passed.

1993—Congress passes The National Voter Registration Act, also known as the "Motor Voter" bill. This legislation made registration more uniform and accessible, particularly for minority and low income voters. It required that states allow voter registration by mail. It also required that states give voters the opportunity to register at other state agencies, such as driver’s license bureaus, welfare offices and unemployment agencies.

January 1995—The Republican majority in the House abolished all Legislative Service Organizations. Congressman Pat Roberts (R-KS) was among several GOP members that campaigned against the public subsidization of caucuses. All caucuses were forced to move out of congressional office space and become Congressional Member Organizations or private corporations.

2002—Congress passed the Help America to Vote Act. This legislation sought to improve the administration of federal elections by providing assistance with the administration of certain federal election laws and programs.

September 2003—The CBC and the Fox News Channel sponsored its first Democratic presidential campaign debate in Baltimore, MD.

October 2003—Congressional Black Caucus and Fox News sponsored a Democratic Presidential Primary Debate in Detroit, MI.

2005
—CBC members met with President George W. Bush to discuss the renewal of the Voting Rights Act and its Amendments, which were set to expire in 2007.

November 2005
—All 42 House members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) introduced HR 4197, the Hurricane Katrina Recovery, Reclamation, Restoration, Reconstruction and Reunion Act of 2005. The bill was designed to provide for the recovery of the Gulf Coast region and for the reunion of families devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

2006
—CBC members co-sponsored the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006.
 
July 2006—The House voted overwhelmingly (390-33) to renew expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

September 2006
—CBCF launches the CBCF Virtual Library Project, the first and most comprehensive virtual library dedicated to recognizing the political and legislative contributions African-Americans have made in Congress.

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