Three years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., 13 black members of Congress formed a group to tackle issues affecting their districts and constituents. Today, the Congressional Black Caucus has a record 48 members. Many say they’re fighting some of the same battles that the group’s founders fought nearly five decades ago. “There has been some progress. I don’t think that any of us would have thought … that in 2008 this country could elect an African-American president,” says Rep. Terri Sewell, a Democrat from Alabama. “But I think that we have to be ever vigilant fighting for jobs and justice. Those issues are still very much at the forefront today.” “I do believe that Martin Luther King’s life, and his legacy, was not in vain.”
Sewell and other members say the caucus has come a long way as a powerful voting bloc since King’s death in 1968. Its members have taken public stands in recent years, including boycotting Donald Trump’s inauguration as president, leading a sit-in in the House chamber and pushing for the removal of Confederate flags and statues from the Capitol.
Rep. Cedric Richmond, chairman of the caucus, says the group is determined to be a force against policies that, among other things, roll back voting rights and reduce access to health care and capital for people of color.