(June 3, 2019 / JNS) Three members of Congress announced on Monday the launch of the bipartisan Black-Jewish congressional caucus.
The Black-Jewish Caucus’s creation follows on a January meeting with the American Jewish Committee’s National Leadership Council, where U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) spoke about the urgent need to bring together African-Americans and Jews.
Caucus co-founders, in addition to Lawrence, are U.S. Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas), John Lewis (D-Ga.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.).
“The African-American and Jewish communities have a history of standing together for the promotion of social justice and civil rights. There are very few segments of America that have invested themselves in these struggles as much as these communities,” said Lawrence. “To encourage and nurture this unique partnership, I have formed the Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations with the hopes of strengthening the trust and advancing our issues in a collective manner.”
The Black-Jewish Caucus will assemble politicians from both communities, and both sides of the aisle, to learn from each other and advocate for joint concerns.
The caucus will raise awareness of each community’s sensitivities and needs in Congress and nationwide, provide resources to members of Congress to empower them to bring African-American and Jewish communities together, combating stereotypes and hate, and showcasing commonalities; support stronger hate-crimes legislation and advocate for increased government resources to confront the threat of white supremacist ideology; and back legislation and work to expand access to democracy and protect election integrity.
“For generations, the Jewish and African-American communities have stood together, helping each other overcome their greatest challenges and triumphing in the face of sweeping discrimination, all while securing a brighter future for all Americans. But our work is not yet finished,” said Zeldin. “It is clear our communities are still the target of hate and discrimination, and we will not stand idly by. It’s an honor to join my colleagues to further defend and promote this profound relationship through the formation of the Black-Jewish Caucus.”
“The Jewish tradition teaches that it is incumbent upon us to speak out and act against injustice. African-American and Jewish communities have a long, shared history of confronting discrimination and racism in the United States, and the rise of white supremacy threatens both of our communities,” said Wasserman Schultz. “The Caucus will build upon our common fight for a better world, while raising awareness in Congress about the issues facing our communities. My hope is that generations to come will live in an America without anti-Semitism, racism, intolerance and hatred.”
The AJC Global Forum, taking place June 2-4 in Washington, D.C., is the advocacy organization’s signature annual event, bringing together nearly 2,500 civic, political and Jewish leaders from across the United States and 50 countries around the world.