Donald Trump Doesn’t Know What The Congressional Black Caucus Is

Either way, he doesn’t care

Matt Higginson
4 min readFeb 17, 2017

Judging from yesterday’s exchange during his unconventional (?) press conference, Donald Trump doesn’t know what the Congressional Black Caucus is. And apparently, Donald Trump sycophant Jeffery Lord, thinks the CBC is a problem akin to KKK leader David Duke launching a Congressional White Caucus, Lord stated:

I used to think the Congressional Black Caucus, when it was first formed, was a good thing. I changed my mind on this. I don’t think there should be any caucuses in the House of Representatives that are divided by race. I mean, heaven forbid if David Duke got elected and wanted to form a congressional white caucus, that would just be appalling. Appalling. This is where we get into a problem, and it’s got to stop.

There is no room in the U.S. Congress for caucuses dived by race, no matter the race. There is no place for it.

Jeffery Lord forgot that the Congressional White Caucus has existed for about 228 years. It’s called the U.S. Congress. It is the same body that codified white supremacy into our laws as the bedrock principle of the Congressional White Caucus, and sustained white supremacy unfettered for the majority of those 228 years the Congressional White Caucus has maintained undisrupted control in the largest and most powerful legislative body in America.

Since the U.S. Congress convened on March 4, 1789, 12,238 humans have served as members. 153 have been Black — or 1.25%. 51 of those 153 are currently serving. 113 of those 12,238 have been Hispanic — or 0.9%. 39 of those 113 Hispanic members of Congress are currently serving.

Whenever I’m in the U.S. Capitol, I make sure to go through the South entrance so I can walk by this wonderful painting of Shirley Chisholm by Kadir Nelson. It is stunning and vibrant in person — I love everything about it.

Shirley Chisholm is a legend. She was the first African American woman elected to the House of Representatives and she ran for President in 1972. She was fierce and unapologetic in her beliefs at a time when being a fierce and unapologetic Black women posed a daily threat of physical harm. She is a hero — not just for the barriers she broke but for everything she stood for.

In a modern world where widespread efforts to suppress and disenfranchise Black voters, and racial oppression and injustice maintains a stranglehold on Black Communities under the guise “law and order”, Shirley Chisholm’s words are as relevant today as they were when she was alive. Donald Trump and Jeffery Lord should read them and perhaps begin to understand why the Congressional Black Caucus should be celebrated rather than be bemoaned:

That I am a national figure because I was the first person in 192 years to be at once a congressman, black, and a woman proves, I would think, that our society is not yet either just or free.

Of course laws will not eliminate prejudice from the hearts of human beings. But that is no reason to allow prejudice to continue to be enshrined in our laws — to perpetuate injustice through inaction.

But Trump & Lord (sounds like a horrible nautical clothing line) have no intention of reading Chisholm’s words or understanding the plight of Black communities. Black voters — especially Black women — did not vote for Donald Trump. That must be the scariest part of it all for them. Threatening the power structures in America that benefit white men have a tendency to hurt marginalized people and communities. Shirley’s words are as frightening to Donald Trump as they are prophetic:

Afro-American subculture has undergone tremendous social and political transformation and these changes have altered the nature of the black community. They are beginning to realize their capacities not only as blacks, but also as women. They are beginning to understand that their cultural well-being and their social well-being would only be affirmed in connection with the total black struggle. The dominant role black women played in the civil rights movement began to allow them to grasp the significance of political power in America. So obviously black women who helped to spearhead the civil rights movement would also now, at this juncture, join and direct the vanguard which would shape and mold a new kind of political participation.

This has been acutely felt in urban areas, which have been rocked by sporadic rebellions. Nothing better illustrates the need for black women to organize politically than their unusual proximity to the most crucial issues affecting black people today. They have struggled in a wide range of protest movements to eliminate the poverty and injustice that permeates the lives of black people. In the face of the increasing poverty besetting black communities, black women have a responsibility. Black women have a duty to bequeath a legacy to their children. Black women have a duty to move from the periphery of organized political activity into its main arena.