THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS NECESSARY BUT NOT SUFFICIENT. On the eve of the group’s 50th anniversary, the new progressives must push the group to be bolder about the problems facing African Americans.
Even after winning their primaries, the new generation of Black congressional insurgents has continued to pound the streets. In Missouri, one week after she’d upset longtime metro St. Louis congressman William Lacy Clay, son of a founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, Cori Bush led a mid-August demonstration to the entrance of the Cole County Jail in Jefferson City. There, the Black Lives Matter activist challenged police to support criminal justice reforms.
In 1949, Clay’s father, William Lacy Clay Sr., survived a brush with local police who tried to frame him for a crime that he didn’t commit. Elected to Congress after the 1968 riots, he championed jobs and housing for African Americans and predicted, “This country is on the verge of a revolution and it is not going to be a revolution of Blacks, but of dissatisfied American people, Black and white.” Two years ago, the younger Clay, who in 2000 had succeeded his father in representing the district, trounced Bush by 20 points.
This year, Bush supporters made sure that voters knew that Clay, a Wall Street apologist, had argued for Republican and Wall Street plans that would disadvantage African Americans. When the Clay campaign belatedly recognized the threat, it went nuclear with mailers that darkened Bush’s skin tone, in an appeal to the old-school Black colorism that still persists, particularly among older voters.