Written by Cynthia Gordy, The Root
In January the newly assembled staff of the Congressional Black Caucus -- executive director and general counsel Angela T. Rye, policy director E. Brandon Garrett, communications director Stephanie L. Young and executive assistant Latrice Powell -- drove to Howard University to peruse the CBC archives. They wanted to research the 40-year-old organization they were now charged with representing, one founded long before any of them were born.
"We saw leaders who were instrumental in the anti-apartheid movement and imposing the trade embargo against South Africa," Rye, 31, told The Root of the collection, which houses, among hundreds of other artifacts, a 1971 report on African-American issues prepared for the caucus by President Nixon and groovy-font copies of the For the People newsletter detailing their 1970s legislative agenda.
Rye continued: "We saw folks like Parren J. Mitchell, who brought 500 entrepreneurs up to the Hill to talk about black economic empowerment, and members who worked to ensure that there were black people on every influential committee in Congress."
With 21 of the CBC's 43 members having served in the House for at least 15 years, today Rye, who considers herself the executive team's visionary, is now working on behalf of many of those same people. Two of the founding members -- John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) -- are still in office and active in the caucus.
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