A proposal from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., to establish a federal Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys is gaining momentum on Capitol Hill.
In July 2019, Rubio teamed up with U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., on the proposal to create the commission which would be under the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ Office and “would recommend policies to improve current government programs.”
Wilson introduced a bill establishing the commission back in the spring of 2019 and quickly had more than 65 cosponsors including Florida Democrats U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, Al Lawson, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Donna Shalala, Darren Soto and Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Posey. In recent weeks, the number of cosponsors jumped to almost 200 as Florida Democrat U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist, Lois Frankel and Stephanie Murphy and Florida Republican U.S. Reps. Greg Steube and Dan Webster backed the bill.
Last week, the U.S. Senate passed the measure without opposition.
“There is nothing more un-American than racial discrimination and racial inequality, and we must address it,” Rubio said. “ All of us are hurt by a country where a significant percentage of Americans feel that their lives do not matter and their issues are not dealt with due to the color of their skin. A lack of economic opportunity and prosperity, particularly for young black men, is a tragedy for our nation. America needs their talents to solve the 21st century’s challenges. I am proud that the Senate took action to pass this important, bipartisan and bicameral legislation that I introduced to establish the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys. I look forward to seeing the Commission produce meaningful recommendations to address the many issues affecting our communities and families.”
During his tenure as a state legislator in Tallahassee, Rubio worked on a similar proposal to create the Florida Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys.
Now the action turns to the U.S. House. The bill was sent to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee which sent it over to its Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee back in April 2019.
“It’s not easy being black and male in America. Despite historic gains made in the last 50 years, black males from all walks of life continue to face challenges and hardships that have created significant disparities in the areas that are most critical to ensuring that our boys have equal opportunities to develop the skills required to become successful men,” Wilson said last spring. “The commission and its work will provide the atomic blast of long overdue support that this issue merits and desperately needs.”
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.