Cedric Richmond – The Congressional Black Caucus’ new leader

Chairman vows to make inclusion of the Black Press a key component in preserving the rights of African Americans

Danny J. Bakewell, Special to The New Tri-State Defender | 2/10/2017, 12:24 p.m.
Chairman vows to make inclusion of the Black Press a key component in preserving the rights of African Americans.
Rep. Cedric Richmond is in the chairman's position as the Congressional Black Caucus moves forward amid the challenges presented by the administration of President Trump. (Courtesy photo via the Los Angeles Sentinel)

Cedric Richmond has been a Congressman in New Orleans for the past six years. Now the 43-year-old member of the House of Representatives from Louisiana’s Second District has taken on the challenge of serving as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

"I have always been interested in serving as chair of the Caucus but over the Thanksgiving Holiday I began to contemplate what life was going to look like in the new environment of the Trump Administration and realized that the CBC was going to have to take the lead role in insuring African Americans have a loud and active voice," Richmond said.

Rep. Cedric Richmond accepts the CBC chairman’s gavel from the previous chairman, G.K. Butterfield (North Carolina District 1). (Photo via the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation)

Rep. Cedric Richmond accepts the CBC chairman’s gavel from the previous chairman, G.K. Butterfield (North Carolina District 1). (Photo via the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation)

Richmond now is three months into a leadership role that involves positioning the Caucus to get things accomplished for African Americans and other disenfranchised communities. Key to that is strategic thinking, planning and execution by the group’s leadership and its members.

The three-term congressional leader has vowed to support the Black Press and Black Media throughout the country. He has formed an alliance with Danny J. Bakewell Sr., former chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, and NNPA President Benjamin Chavis to insure that African-American media is included and plays an active role in getting out the message of what is going on in federal government.

"The federal government is the largest advertiser in the country and for us to ignore, not support or cripple our black newspapers would be a travesty,” Richmond said. “If we don't advertise in the Black Press we are missing and not taking advantage of a way to communicate to the millions of African Americans throughout the country.”

As CBC chairman, Richmond is committed to seeking accountability when it comes to making sure African Americans are part of the diversity discussion.

"Just as we discuss and take diversity very seriously within the House in regards to employment we must also lobby for diversity in advertising and take that just as seriously."

In pursuit of the CBC agenda, Richmond recently reached out to the leaders of the major civil rights organizations across the country.

“We have agreed to meet regularly and work together to sustain and uphold the things that are important in sustaining a quality of life for African Americans,” Richmond said. “We have been through tough times before and this is no different."

Richmond’s agenda for his two-year CBC administration largely mirrors the agenda that the CBC (founded in 1971) has embraced since its inception. It includes:

• Restoration of key elements of the Voting Rights Act;

• Creating more economic opportunities for African Americans;

• Fighting to raise the minimum wage. Not allowing tax cuts for business to be on the backs of poor people;

• Resisting Trump administration efforts to strip away the safety net that provides services and support for many of the people residing in communities represented by CBC members.

Richmond said raising the minimum wage is essential to creating a stronger foundation for families.

"We want to work and find ways to preserve the family unit,” he said.