Don't Weaken the Community Reinvestment Act: Congressional Black Caucus to Trump Administration.

AuthorLockhart, P.R.

As President Donald Trump's first State of the Union address took place January 30, 2018, an image of the Congressional Black Caucus began to spread. It showed the members of the caucus, wearing kente cloth adornments that stood out in the audience, sitting--some with blank expressions, others with more active looks of annoyance--as the president, somewhat misleadingly, touted that black unemployment had reached a historic low during his first year in office.

The image, and the feelings of those in it, would be dissected by media outlets in the hours after the president's address, with some arguing that it was a protest that went too far, while others argued it didn't go far enough.

But the expressions captured in the photo were hardly surprising. By Tuesday morning, seven members of the 48-person CBC--Reps. John Lewis (D-GA), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Bobby Rush (D-IL), and Danny Davis (D-IL)--had already announced that they would not attend the president's address. (This isn't the first time that a large number of black legislators have boycotted a State of the Union. In 1971, every black legislator in the House boycotted President Richard Nixon's address after he refused to meet with them.)

They cited a range of slights from Trump--his criticism of NFL players, his attacks on black legislators, his referring to several predominantly black countries as "shitholes," and, most notably, his policy agenda and its effects on communities of color--as factors in their decision to skip.

And at a press conference on Capitol Hill earlier that day, CBC members had expressed their disapproval of Trump, arguing that in addition to his policy decisions that had affected communities of color negatively, the president was seeking to claim credit for an economic trajectory that economists say he had no role in creating.

The press conference, called a State of the Union "prebuttal" in a press release Tuesday morning, came as rumors of a potential caucus-wide protest or boycott of Trump's address circulated, rumors that were first prompted by comments Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), the caucus chair, made in a BuzzFeed interview earlier in January.

The press event aimed to tamp down those expectations, with caucus leadership saying that while some members would not attend the address, the rest of the caucus would. That this suggested the presence of divisions in the caucus was refuted. "We're doing it together, we're doing it in solidarity. Some will boycott, some will stare down racism [by...

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