The College Democrats launched an off-shoot to their organization called the Black Democratic Caucus Tuesday night with a visit from Congressman James Clyburn, D-S.C., House Majority Whip and former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The new group plans to host special events and meetings to assure that black issues and interests are being taken into account.
Senior James Jones said he has spent the year as College Democrats political affairs director reaching out to black Democrats with help from the Black Student Union and the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
“We’re taking the extra step to make sure we’re hearing the other perspective,” Jones said. “A lot of people don’t talk about black political issues, like black unemployment and black poverty. A lot of times we focus on the whole, but don’t have a chance to address things on a smaller scale.”
Clyburn said the Congressional Black Caucus is “not an alternative, it’s a supplemental to the discussion.” That is the model the Black Democratic Caucus hopes to follow within the College Democrats.
“We were so proud to have Rep. Clyburn provide his insights on the dynamics between race and politics as we reached our year-long goal of launching a Black Democratic Caucus at GW,” said senior Cory Struble, president of the CDs. “I think he inspired our members to continue the race dialogue beyond his speech.”
Clyburn spoke before 30 students about the importance of passing President Obama’s budget, the diversity of the Democratic Party and his philosophy on being a congressional whip.
“If the distance between me and you is five steps, I don’t mind taking three of them,” he said of his ability to compromise. “I learned to meet people more than half way. I learned to not care who gets the credit. I learned to respect individual differences.”
It is with this outlook that he has worked through negotiations, using consultation instead of coercion. As Majority Whip, Clyburn is responsible for ensuring the party leadership has enough votes to pass legislation.
Noting the current importance of passing the president’s budget, Clyburn said the legislation is an “expression of values and an articulation of the vision,” President Obama wants for America.
Clyburn named affordable higher education and energy independence as two of the most pressing issues facing the country today. He said he hopes the energy solutions in the new budget will address our national security problem, help clean our environment and create new jobs.
Most importantly, Clyburn said, the dialogue about race cannot end. “Don’t stop talking,” he said.
Clyburn said the many coalitions within the Democratic Caucus ensure that the legislation they produce represents diverse opinions, something he claims does not exist on the Republican side.