[Pages H1344-H1350]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                      CBC/SOCIAL JUSTICE MOVEMENTS

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Rutherford). Under the Speaker's 
announced policy of January 3, 2017, the gentlewoman from the Virgin 
Islands (Ms. Plaskett) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of 
the minority leader.

                             General Leave

  Ms. PLASKETT. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and to 
include any extraneous material in the Record.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentlewoman from the Virgin Islands?
  There was no objection.
  Ms. PLASKETT. Mr. Speaker, the CBC chair, Mr. Cedric Richmond, and 
myself have a great honor that I rise today as one of the anchors of 
the CBC, the Congressional Black Caucus' Special Order hour.
  For the next 60 minutes I have a chance to speak directly to the 
American people on issues of great importance to the Congressional 
Black Caucus, Congress, the constituents we represent, and all 
  During this hour, as Black History Month ends in the next day, we 
believe it is important for this Congress and

[[Page H1345]]

for the people of America to hear about the great importance of 
grassroots movements, which have been the fortifying effect of the 
civil rights movements and other movements here in this country, and 
have made this country very great.
  At this time I would yield to the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. 
Richmond), the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, who will speak 
on this subject matter here on the floor.
  Mr. RICHMOND. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, Stacey Plaskett from 
the Virgin Islands, for taking this assignment and making sure that the 
Congressional Black Caucus continues its conversation with America, and 
to inform people on issues that are important to us, and also 
reflecting on how important African-American history is, not just to 
us, but to this country.
  It is African-American history that made this country great in the 
first place. How our civil rights groups and people of the same kind, 
not necessarily the same color, came together to make this a more 
perfect union.
  So today what I wanted to do was actually talk about some of the 
civil rights organizations that changed this country, made it better, 
made it possible for me to be here, and compare and talk about some of 
the movements that we see today that are making some of the same 
differences for the next generation. It is just a shame that in 2017 we 
are still fighting the same fights we fought 50 years ago for voting 
rights, for equality, and all of those things.
  So when I say I want to talk about some of those organizations, I 
want to talk about organizations like SCLC, the Southern Christian 
Leadership Conference; or CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality; or 
SNCC, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. They all played 
an important role in launching grassroots movements that succeeded in 
ensuring more equality for African Americans.
  Sit-ins, bus boycotts, marches, voter registration drives, and other 
protests--these grassroots movements spread across the South, including 
my home State of Louisiana.
  Let's just talk about one specific incident. September 9, 1960, the 
Woolworth store lunch counter in New Orleans closed early.
  What was the reason?
  Seven members of the Congress of Racial Equality, five Black students 
and two White students, decided to hold a sit-in demonstration to 
protest Jim Crow. This was the first-ever sit-in in the city.
  The seven students were like so many other students across the South 
at the time who were using nonviolent action to change the country. In 
fact, let me read their names because many of them I knew.
  In fact, one, Jerome Smith, who was a Southern University student the 
year before, is actually still on the battlefield in Louisiana not only 
coaching Little League, but fighting for criminal justice reform and 
financial and economic equality.
  You also had Rudy Lombard from Xavier University, a freedom fighter; 
Archie Allen from Dillard University; Bill Harrell from Tulane; William 
Harper, who was at LSU; Hugh Murray, who was also at Tulane; and Joyce 
Taylor, who intended to enroll at Southern University.
  Fortunately, unlike others who held sit-ins, these seven Southern 
students didn't have milkshakes thrown on them. They were not beaten or 
bloodied. The seven students sat down at 10:30. Six police officers 
were on hand to keep the peace and did not try to remove the students. 
The students sat there determined for 2 hours.
  Because of the demonstration, Woolworth blinked first. They decided 
to close early that day and they closed at 12:30, after the students 
had sat there for 2 hours.
  These seven students and so many other civil rights activists are the 
shoulders on which we all stand. Unfortunately, the fight for equality 
is not over. We see this most clearly when we look at our criminal 
justice system. To date, the organization Black Lives Matter has 
launched a grassroots movement that has succeeded in exposing police 
brutality and making it front-page news.
  The movement began in 2012, after the death of Trayvon Martin, who 
was killed by a neighborhood watchman on February 26, 2012. I would be 
remiss if I did not mention that yesterday was the fifth anniversary of 
Trayvon Martin's death.
  Black Lives Matter is focused on all of the ways Black people are 
disempowered by the State, including police brutality. In addition to 
exposing police brutality and making it front-page news, Black Lives 
Matter, like the organizations during the civil rights movement, has 
attracted a diverse coalition of supporters.
  The reality is not lost on African Americans. As I mentioned before, 
two of the protesters who sat in at the Woolworth store in Louisiana 
were White. If you go back to Philadelphia, Mississippi, where they 
found the three bodies of the civil rights workers who were registering 
people to vote, you saw Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner--one African 
American and two White Americans--who stuck together fighting in 

  Dr. King said so eloquently: ``Injustice anywhere is a threat to 
justice everywhere.''
  So as we talk about our organizations like SNCC, CORE, and SCLC, and 
we talk about Black Lives Matter, it reminds me of the time when Dr. 
King was sitting in the Birmingham jail, and seven--eight White 
religious leaders in the South criticized Dr. King, asking: Why he 
couldn't wait. Why did he have to force the issue? And why, as an 
outsider, he was down in Birmingham?
  Dr. King responded and initially said: ``I don't usually answer 
criticism because I would be doing it all day, but because I believe 
you to be eight men of goodwill, I will take the time to answer.''
  I just want to read you an excerpt of his answer because I think it 
is so appropriate when we think of our groups that are coming up now.
  He said: ``I think I should give the reason for my being in 
Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the argument of 
`outsiders coming in.' I have the honor of serving as president of the 
Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in 
every Southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.''
  It then goes on to say: ``So I am here, along with several members of 
my staff, because we were invited here. I am here because I have basic 
organizational ties here.''
  Then he goes on to say: ``Beyond this, I am in Birmingham because 
injustice is here. Just as the eighth-century prophets left their 
little villages and carried their `thus saith the Lord' far beyond the 
boundaries of their hometowns; and just as the Apostle Paul left his 
little village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to 
practically every hamlet and city of the Greco-Roman world, I too am 
compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular hometown. 
Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.''
  So when you think of Black Lives Matter and other protests, the first 
comment is: We are outside agitators; why are they here?
  They are here because injustice is here. So all marginalized groups 
must stand together in the fight against injustice. This was important 
during the civil rights movement and it is important now.
  In that spirit, African Americans fully recognize the importance of 
not only joining movements in support of their rights, but also joining 
movements in support of the rights of others.
  Standing Rock: Most recently, African Americans and others have stood 
with Native Americans at Standing Rock to protest the Dakota Access 
  The Muslim ban: We have stood with the Muslim community to protest 
the Trump administration's controversial Muslim ban.
  Then there was the Women's March, which was led by a diverse 
coalition of organizers and attracted millions of protesters across the 
Nation and the world to protest sexism and other gender issues. African 
Americans participated in the march, including several members of the 
Congressional Black Caucus.
  Then we can talk about indivisible. African Americans and others have 
stood with their fellow constituents at recent townhalls to make sure 
that their Congressman or Congresswoman hears their voices on the 
Affordable Care Act and other issues. Some of

[[Page H1346]]

these exercises in civic participation have been inspired by the 
guidebook ``Indivisible,'' which, as the authors state, provides best 
practices on getting elected officials to listen.
  Then there is Moral Mondays with Reverend William Barber. It began in 
2013 after the Republicans took over the Governor's mansion and State 
legislature in the Tar Heel State for the first time in more than a 
century. On what was supposed to be the first and only Monday protest, 
Barber led a small group of clergy and activists to the State 
legislature to protest the State Republicans' efforts to block Medicaid 
expansion, cut unemployment benefits, and roll back voting rights. The 
next Monday, hundreds of protesters showed up, and hundreds soon became 
thousands. These protests became known as Moral Mondays, and they 
eventually spread across the South.
  So let me just say that from SCLC to SNCC, to CORE, to 
``Indivisible,'' to Moral Mondays and Reverend Barber, to Black Lives 
Matter, people of like mind that fight for justice come together. And 
that, we learned from the civil rights movement, and that is our 
contribution to date to Black History Month and celebrating that civil 
protests and civil disobedience can change and make this a more perfect 
  Ms. PLASKETT. Mr. Speaker, I really was moved by the portion that Mr. 
Richmond talked about concerning outsiders coming to organizations and 
coming to protests, and saying possibly that they are outsiders.
  No. We are all American, and we will join with other individuals in 
other areas that need our support and feel oppressed, and feel that 
justice has not been on our side. That has been the Black American 
experience. That is the American experience of civil protests and 
working for a more perfect union.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield time to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Veasey), 
who also wants to speak about, as we close Black History Month, some of 
the accomplishments of Black Americans, of the Black movement here in 
the United States as we move to becoming a more perfect union, and how 
grassroots organizations have played a part in that role.

                              {time}  2030

  Mr. VEASEY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from the Virgin 
Islands (Ms. Plaskett) for leading this Special Order hour on the topic 
of Black History Month.
  We have been doing this together and doing a really great job. I 
appreciate everything that the gentlewoman brings and the remarks she 
has made during this Black History Month time because it really is a 
time for us to reflect about the gains that have been made, about the 
progress that has been made. It is also a time to see where we can make 
some improvements, where we can make our Nation a more perfect Union, 
as we really look at things and not pretend that certain things don't 
exist, to really use history, use present day and see where we can come 
together, form some public policy to really get the country moving 
forward and be inclusive for all people. I think that is so important.
  For a long time now, one of the areas--it has been talked a lot about 
when it comes to civil rights--is grassroots and how those grassroots 
movements within the African-American community, particularly from a 
Black history perspective, really changed things here in our country.
  For a long time, African Americans have long fought for the right for 
a fair chance of livable wages, improvement of on-the-job conditions, 
and the ability to provide basic necessities for our families, whether 
it was wages, fairness in working conditions. That was always one of 
the rights that we fought very hard for. Access to these basic rights 
that I just mentioned and privileges would not have been possible 
without groups of dedicated organizers working together to fight on 
behalf of larger progress.
  The right to organize is not a new theory for change. Since 
reconstruction, organizing has helped level the playing field for all 
and continues to drive much of our Nation's progress.
  The weekends that we enjoy, a lot of people--particularly when I was 
growing up in the Black community in Fort Worth, people looked forward 
to that end of the week. People looked forward to that getting-off 
time, that 40 hours a week. Those things were fought for. Those were 
gains that were made by sacrifice, by grassroots organizing. Much of 
that was done in the African-American community.
  We know that even around the issue of progress and labor issues that 
much of it was tainted by race. Organized labor has been such a big 
part of the advancement of the African-American community. Early on, 
there were some issues with some trade organizations that were 
established by White workers, and African Americans had a hard time 
gaining their footing in those areas.
  As a result of that, Black workers continued to push and organize. I 
think about one of Dr. King's quotes. It is one of my favorite quotes 
that he gave that is not mentioned that often. He was speaking to a 
group of laundry workers in 1962.
  Dr. King said this to the laundry workers. He said: ``As I have said 
many times, and believe with all my heart, the coalition that can have 
the greatest impact in the circle for human dignity here in America is 
that of the Negro and the forces of labor, because their fortunes are 
so closely intertwined.''
  More importantly, when Dr. King gave that speech, he wanted people to 
know that, not only are professional jobs, white-collar jobs, 
important, but he wanted the people that worked in that laundry room to 
know that their job was important, too. He pushed for people, no matter 
whether they were garbage workers, sanitation workers, laundry workers, 
whatever they happened to be in life, to make sure that they had 
certain basic rights and privileges that other groups in this country 
enjoyed because he knew that that was going to be the vehicle that was 
going to provide economic mobility, upward mobility for the African-
American community.
  The very principle of economic opportunity for African Americans laid 
the groundwork for the civil rights movement that Dr. King was such a 
big part of. And we know that that played a big part in Dr. King and 
what happened during his death in 1968.
  Ms. PLASKETT. Mr. Speaker, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Veasey) 
knows that people like he and I would never be here, never have been 
able to be educated without people who worked in laundry rooms, who 
were blue-collar workers, policemen, others. Those gains from Dr. King 
have afforded education and support and home ownership to the first 
group of Black Americans who moved into the middle class and are here 
in Congress now.
  I yield to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Veasey).
  Mr. VEASEY. Mr. Speaker, so many people that I have memories of, some 
are still here and some are gone, but they really laid the foundation 
for a Black middle class.
  Maybe Granddaddy worked at the school and Grandmother worked at 
someone's house or maybe they were fortunate enough to have two good 
labor jobs where they made union wages, but it laid that groundwork for 
the foundation that we have today.
  Dr. King was obviously a big part of that. Sadly, on April 4, 1968, 
he paid his life supporting the sanitation workers in Memphis, trying 
to push for them to have better wages.
  When Dr. King died, it wasn't about trying to open up a restaurant to 
make sure that all people had access to that restaurant or some other 
place, to make sure that people could ride on the bus; it was to make 
sure that people had equal opportunity in this country, again, equal 
opportunity for upward mobility, equal opportunity to be able to take 
care of their families. I just really appreciate everything that he 
  We need to continue to mobilize and organize grassroots efforts 
around the income inequality in this country. The income inequality 
that we have in this country is very, very real.
  You see productivity rising in our country. You see companies 
recording record productivity, but wages are stagnant. There used to be 
a time in this country that wages would go up when productivity of 
companies went up, and we are not seeing that anymore. I think that is 
really, really sad. We need to organize around that because all people 
need the opportunity

[[Page H1347]]

to be able to advance as the country advances and as industry advances. 
I think that that is a big part of that.

  Again, I thank all our colleagues that have come here tonight to 
organize, to carry the torch. We need to continue to find different 
ways that we can use grassroots movements in this country, not just 
looking back and reflecting on previous grassroots and events, but how 
we can learn from that history and how we can mobilize people today to 
better America, to better wages for all communities, for the African-
American community, of course, as we celebrate and come toward the end 
of Black History Month, but Latino communities, White communities, 
people in the Rust Belt, and African-American communities in places 
like Gary, Indiana, that really saw their fortunes hurt more than many 
other parts of the country. We need to get together and work on that.
  So I want to thank the gentlewoman from the Virgin Islands (Ms. 
Plaskett). I know we have some other colleagues who are going to speak 
here tonight, and I thank them for being a part of this day.
  Ms. PLASKETT. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Pennsylvania 
(Mr. Evans) to speak on the issue of grassroots organizations.
  I thank the gentleman for his leadership, all the work that he has 
done for the people of Philadelphia in his tenure. We welcome him here 
to the CBC hour and the information that he is going to share with us, 
as well as all Americans, on this topic.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, in 1976, the United States Government 
officially recognized Black History Month.
  Every February since, we take the time to reflect on the 
contributions African Americans have made to this great Nation. We 
stand on the shoulders of those who have paved the way not only for 
African Americans, but for all Americans: individuals such as Shirley 
Chisholm, who once was a Member of this body and the first African-
American woman elected to the United States Congress; Congressman 
Parren Mitchell; Justice Thurgood Marshall; and my personal hero, 
Reverend Leon H. Sullivan, a civil rights leader and a social activist 
who understood jobs were the key to economic development and 
empowerment of African Americans.
  Reverend Sullivan had a very simple statement: ``Don't buy where you 
don't work.'' That is what Reverend Sullivan said: ``Don't buy where 
you don't work.''
  Reverend Sullivan, who was on the board of General Motors, started 
something called OIC, that we all know about, in 1964. I was 10 years 
old when Reverend Sullivan started OIC Industrial Center.
  Reverend Sullivan led a movement, a movement that 400 ministers led 
against a baking company in the city of Philadelphia called Tastykake. 
That is where he said: ``Don't buy where you don't work.'' That is a 
message that is still very relevant to where we are today. It is clear 
that we need to change the dynamics of this economic structure.
  Despite the strides that some have made in our country, we still have 
a long way to go to make our country a more perfect Union. Tonight, we 
want to ensure that those who have joined, specifically at the 
grassroots, in the quest for justice and equality understand that we 
are still fighting. Communities across our Nation are struggling, and 
we have to continue to fight against policies and actions that will 
negatively impact them, including the repeal and inadequate replacement 
of the Affordable Care Act.
  Constituents in my district rely on the Affordable Care Act heavily, 
and dismantling this law will be devastating and result in the loss of 
jobs. Those in my district want us to understand the hardships they are 
going through; thus, we must all ensure that we listen to the concerns 
of our communities.
  I personally made it a point to visit hospitals, attend rallies, 
visit colleges, and reach out to the community. I serve because it is 
my job. I was elected to represent the people. We stand united with 
those at the grassroots movement who are fighting for justice for all.
  Colleagues, let's continue to join with those who are pushing in the 
right direction, not just on Black History Month, but every month and 
every day and every moment. This is a rather unique opportunity in 
history, and we all can play a role in the change in the effort.
  I am proud to be a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and to be 
standing with my colleagues here today, pushing the message and the 
conscience of this country that we are still not finished. From those 
whom I just mentioned and the shoulders that we stand on, we still have 
a lot of work.
  I thank both of my colleagues for leading this effort and 
demonstrating it. I thank the chairman of the Congressional Black 
Caucus for his leadership.
  Ms. PLASKETT. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Ohio (Mrs. 
Beatty), who is also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, who 
formerly led this Special Order hour and has been really a great mentor 
and support for us here in this time. She will also speak about some of 
the grassroots work that has been going on in the present time as well 
as in the past during this Special Order hour.
  Mrs. BEATTY. Mr. Speaker, some would conclude that Black History 
Month comes to a close because we are at the end of February, but the 
Congressional Black Caucus wants the Nation to know that we are 
prepared to share our agenda all year long.
  The Congressional Black Caucus comes to the House floor tonight to 
commemorate those brave men and women who came before us to fight for 
justice, equality, civil rights, and voting rights for all. These are 
men and women who shaped our Nation in the hope it would one day become 
a more perfect Union for all Americans, no matter their creed or color.

                              {time}  2045

  I want to thank our Congressional Black Caucus chairman, Congressman 
Cedric Richmond, and our Special Order Hour coanchors, Congresswoman 
Stacy Plaskett and Congressman Marc Veasey, my classmate, for hosting 
tonight's important discussion.
  Mr. Speaker, you see, I grew up reading about soldiers of justice 
like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nat Turner, 
Crispus Attucks, and so many more.
  Then, Mr. Speaker, I lived through the legacy of legends and civil 
rights leaders like Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and 
Coretta Scott King, Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, Congresswoman Shirley 
Chisholm, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, and Fannie Lou Hamer, all heroes 
and sheroes that allowed me to stand on their shoulders, to stand with 
them to continue to fight for justice and equality.
  Today, we stand up during Black History Month, as 49 members of the 
Congressional Black Caucus, 49 strong, making our place in American 
history as African Americans, members like the iconic Assistant Leader 
James Clyburn, who you will hear from tonight; Congressman John Lewis; 
Chairman Cedric Richmond; Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who serves as 
the ranking member on the prestigious Financial Services Committee; 
Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, the 21st national president of Delta Sigma 
Theta Sorority; Senator Kamala Harris, the second Black woman to serve 
in the United States Senate; Congresswoman Robin Kelly, chairwoman of 
our healthcare brain trust; and so many more who serve in Congress, and 
who served as mayors of cities, mayors like Congressman Emanuel 
Cleaver, Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, and so many more.
  You see, Mr. Speaker, we are a part of that history. We are fighting. 
And so I tell you, I end with one of my favorite quotes by Martin 
Luther King, Jr.: ``The ultimate measure of a man is not where he 
stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at 
times of challenge and controversy.''
  Well, Mr. Speaker, it is clear that we are in a challenging time with 
the new Trump administration, and so I say to you, we are fighting, we 
are uniting in a movement to fight for our democracy.
  Ms. PLASKETT. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from South 
Carolina (Mr. Clyburn), the assistant leader of the Democratic Caucus, 
for him to speak on the matter that is before the House at this time, 
that being, grassroots movements in Black history and

[[Page H1348]]

its importance and relevance for us here today.
  Mr. CLYBURN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding to me 
and for the work she does with this Special Order. And I thank my 
friend from Texas (Mr. Veasey), for allowing me to participate.
  Mr. Speaker, thanks to the scholarship of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, and 
the perseverance of the Association for the Study of African American 
Life and History, we continue to lift up the contributions of and 
achievements of Black Americans.
  The celebration of Black History Month has its roots in Black History 
Week, established back in 1926; and because of the urgings of Carter G. 
Woodson, the week was selected to be the second week of February in 
order to embrace the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham 
  Now, later, in fact, in 1969, students at Kent State University, 
after having experienced some turmoil on their campus back in 1968, as 
it took place on campuses in other places across the country--Jackson 
State in Mississippi, South Carolina State in South Carolina--students 
at Kent State decided, as a part of their redress, to expand the week 
to a month. So they, in 1970, celebrated what they called Black History 
  Now, 6 years later, President Gerald Ford signed legislation creating 
Black History Month. When he signed that legislation, he said it was to 
honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans.
  The Association for the Study of African American Life and History is 
entrusted with the celebration every year, and it falls upon them to 
select a theme for each year. This year they have selected the theme 
which I think is very timely, ``The Crisis in Black Education.'' Having 
started my professional career as a public school teacher, I totally 
embrace this particular topic for this year.
  Throughout our history, especially post-Civil War history, there has 
always been a focus on Black education. As we all know, slaves were not 
allowed to be educated, and, as a result, when the Civil War came to a 
close, there was this big push to get the former slaves educated.
  One of the leaders of that push was one of my heroes, Robert Smalls. 
Robert Smalls, though he was not allowed to be educated himself because 
he was born into slavery, used his God-given intellect to study the 
currents of the Charleston Harbor and to study the whistles that were 
used on the ship that he was working on as a slave. He decided that he 
could, at some point, find his way to freedom.
  Because he learned those currents so well, and because he became very 
proficient at studying the sounds of the whistles on the ships, one 
night, when the opportunity presented itself, he absconded The Planter 
that he was working on, navigated the waters out of the Charleston 
Harbor, picked up his wife and friends, and sailed them into freedom. 
And when he delivered that ship to the Union soldiers, he was rewarded 
with his freedom and a cash award.
  Robert Smalls, after the war, went back to Beaufort and, in 1867, 
founded a school to educate the newly freed slaves. He also 
participated as a delegate to the 1868 South Carolina Constitutional 
Convention, and in that Convention, he authored and got passed a 
resolution that created the first free public schools for all in 
  He turned his wealth--or his financial reward into great wealth. And 
also, he became a very, I would say, successful politician. He served 
10 years in the South Carolina Legislature and a total of 10 years here 
in this House of Representatives.
  While he was participating in politics, Robert Smalls authored a 
piece of legislation that created what is now South Carolina State 
University. Therein lies a part of my presentation I would like to 
concentrate on tonight.

  When South Carolina State University was created--I want to first get 
people to understand, there are more than 100 Historically Black 
Colleges and Universities in the country. Now, there is a difference 
between--we commonly call them HBCUs. There is a difference between an 
HBCU and what we call an MSI, a Minority Serving Institution. All HBCUs 
are MSIs, but not all MSIs are HBCUs, simply because the definition 
means that you must have been in existence before 1964.
  We have had a lot of Minority Serving Institutions that have been 
created since 1964; to name just a few, Malcolm X College, Medgar Evers 
College. These are all Minority Serving Institutions. There are a lot 
of Hispanic Serving Institutions, but they are not necessarily HBCUs.
  The reason I point this out, because here in this Congress, in this 
body, currently, 19 members of the Congressional Black Caucus are 
graduates of HBCUs. Now, the reason I point this out is because I think 
it is necessary for us to understand the role that these colleges and 
universities play in our society.
  I often spend a lot of time with friends, many of whom are graduates 
of HBCUs, and I knew Astronaut Ronald McNair very well. I have a good 
friend, a cardiologist, recently retired, David Dowdy. I also have a 
friend, a California businesswoman who I interact with quite a bit, 
Janice Howroyd. All three of these people graduated from North Carolina 
A&T State University.
  I have talked a lot with another former Member, Carrie Meek, a former 
Member of Congress; her son, Kendrick Meek; former Congresswoman 
Corrine Brown; and the chairman of the board of Microsoft, John 
Thompson. All four of these individuals are graduates of Florida A&M 
University, an HBCU. These are people who have made significant and are 
making significant contributions in our thrust toward a more perfect 
  I came before this body several times the week before last 
highlighting some of the HBCUs that are in my congressional district. 
Of the more than 100 in the country, 8 of them are in South Carolina. 
Seven are in my congressional district. I talked about six of them when 
I came before this body before. Tonight I want to close out my 
discussion of these HBCUs by talking about two of them, Claflin 
University and South Carolina State University, both located adjacent 
to each other in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

                              {time}  2100

  Now, Claflin University was founded in 1869, by Methodist 
missionaries to provide education for newly freed slaves in order to 
prepare them for full citizenship. The university was named for William 
Claflin, then-Governor of Massachusetts, and his father, Lee Claflin, 
both prominent abolitionists and Methodists. They provided a large 
portion of the funds needed to purchase the land for the campus. 
Claflin is the oldest Historically Black College in South Carolina. In 
its beginning, it had a law school which was headed by former South 
Carolina Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Jasper Wright, the first 
African American to serve on South Carolina's highest court.
  In 1948, under the leadership of its first alumnus to serve as 
president, Dr. John Seabrook, Claflin was accredited by the Southern 
Association of Colleges and Schools. It has always featured a strong 
music program, and the Claflin University collegiate choir performed at 
the 1965 World's Fair in New York. Claflin graduate and Kingstree, 
South Carolina native, Dr. Henry Tisdale has served as the university's 
president since 1994. Under his leadership, Claflin has thrived and 
grown to new heights. He has built Claflin to an enrollment of almost 
2,000 students and consistently seen it ranked in the top 10 nationally 
for HBCUs. In 1999, through funds from the HBCU Historic Preservation 
program by this body, the historic Ministers' Hall was restored.
  The auditorium at Ministers' Hall was named for former Chief Justice 
Ernest A. Finney, one of Claflin's most notable graduates. Finney 
graduated from South Carolina State's law school and would go on to 
serve on the South Carolina Supreme Court from 1985 through 2000, 
including 6 years as Chief Justice. Early in his career, Ernest Finney 
represented the Friendship 9, a group of Rock Hill students who were 
jailed in 1961 for a sit-in in McCrory's lunch counter. In 2015, Finney 
represented the surviving eight members of this group to see their 
convictions overturned--54 years after they were originally prosecuted.
  Claflin is still affiliated with the United Methodist Church and 
offers multiple master's degrees, as well as a highly regarded honors 
program. For 148 years, Claflin has been a beacon of

[[Page H1349]]

hope and a place of refuge for those who desired a quality education 
regardless of race and/or gender.
  Mr. Speaker, the final HBCU in this series is my alma mater, South 
Carolina State University. South Carolina State University has its 
roots in the Morrill Acts, the first of which was passed by Congress in 
1862. The Morrill Act of 1862 created land grant colleges, a system of 
agriculture, science, and engineering and military science schools. One 
of the schools established under this law was Clemson University. But 
after Reconstruction ended, Southern States refused to admit African 
Americans to these institutions; consequently, Congress passed a second 
Morrill Act in 1890, which stipulated that Blacks must be included in 
the land grant system. Southern States had the choice to either admit 
Blacks to the 1862 institutions or create new land grant institutions 
which would be open to Blacks.
  In South Carolina, by the 1890s, White supremacists had gained total 
control over State government. Though the State was still majority 
African American, through illegal and violent intimidation, extreme 
voter suppression, and outright fraud, Benjamin Tillman was elected 
Governor in 1890. The Constitutional Convention of 1895 subsequently 
codified White supremacy and the disenfranchisement of African 
Americans into the State's system of governance. When the United States 
Supreme Court sanctioned segregation the following year in Plessy v. 
Ferguson, segregation was firmly the law of the land.
  This was the context for the founding, in 1896, of the Colored 
Normal, Industrial, Agricultural and Mechanical College of South 
Carolina, as South Carolina State was originally named. The State of 
South Carolina continued to resist but relented when land was acquired 
from Claflin University, and the campus of what is now known as South 
Carolina State University was born. It continues to be the only 
publicly supported HBCU in South Carolina.
  Now, I know, Mr. Speaker, that I have consumed a lot of time, and I 
don't want to take all of the time from my colleagues, so let me just 
close by saying this: South Carolina State's first president was a man 
named Thomas E. Miller who served as a Member of this body. Thomas 
Miller guided the school for several years. Notable graduates of this 
institution are folks like Dr. Benjamin Mays, the noted president of 
Morehouse College.
  South Carolina State has a reputation as producing more African-
American general officers than any other school in this country. I 
entered South Carolina State in 1957, and, of course, I was there 
during the turbulent sixties. It was my great honor to help organize 
the first sit-in in South Carolina. You talk about grassroots. That 
took place on March 15, 1960. Now, I was jailed as a result of that 
sit-in, but it just so happens that sometimes good things can come out 
of jail. While I was there, a young lady came to bring food. I was so 
grateful for that hamburger she gave me, I married her 18 months later, 
and if all goes well, come June 24, she and I will celebrate our 56th 
wedding anniversary.
  Now, when all of these cases took place growing out of these 
demonstrations and sit-ins, one stands out which I will close with. I 
mentioned Kent State in 1968, Jackson State, and South Carolina State. 
A lot of people have heard of Kent State. Few people know about the 
deaths of three students and the injuries of 27 others in an incident 
called the Orangeburg massacre that took place in 1968, all over the 
integration of a bowling alley.
  Mr. Speaker, I am going to close my comments by thanking the 
gentlewoman from the Virgin Islands for giving me this opportunity and 
the gentleman from Texas and thank them very much for highlighting 
Black History Month.
  Mr. Speaker, it is impossible for me to really share the real impact 
that schools like Claflin, South Carolina State, and the over 100 other 
HBCUs have had on our great country. But, as I conclude our observance 
of Black History Month, I salute all of them and thank them for the 
indelible mark that they have made on the fabric of our Nation.

  Ms. PLASKETT. I thank you so much, Mr. James Clyburn. There can never 
be enough time for you to tell these stories and to educate and 
highlight to all of us the experiences that you have had personally, as 
well as the importance of Black History Month, and particularly 
Historically Black Colleges and Universities to the fabric of the 
United States. Thank you so much, sir.
  Mr. Speaker, as we have been discussing, often grassroots 
organizations are actually born out of necessity, not only because the 
system has not worked for them oftentimes, but sometimes because the 
system has been created, has been reorganized, or is actively fighting 
against them. Virgin Islanders understand the importance and the value 
of grassroots organizations. It is our nature and our lifeblood. We are 
a small people on a small island who have a history that was born out 
of oppression. So the very need for grassroots organizations and people 
who are resilient and willing to resist and fight in a passionate 
manner has been our very nature.
  Our first experience with grassroots organizations was in 1733, on 
the island of St. John in the Virgin Islands, which is probably the 
first slave uprising in the Western Hemisphere where a group of 150 
slaves decided that they had had enough, and those Akwamu slaves of 
Ghana decided that they were going to throw off the shackles and rebel 
and organize themselves. They were so effective at it, Mr. Speaker, 
that they were able to hold the island of St. John for 6 months against 
the Danish Government. The Danes had to organize in such a manner that 
they brought the French and the Swiss Government to provide assistance 
to them. The slaves of St. John were quelled after that rebellion, but 
it took a grassroots group of organized individuals to be able to do 
  Again, on July 3 of 1848, many people don't know that the Virgin 
Islands became the second place in the Western Hemisphere to receive 
emancipation after Haiti. We did that on July 3, 1848, through the work 
of General Buddhoe. But what people do not know is that John Buddhoe 
had an enormous organizational group that plotted and planned for 
months before the actual staging of that uprising, which was so 
effective and so organized that when they went to storm the fort 
against an armed militia, the militia didn't realize that all of the 
gun powder had been taken out of the cannons and had been replaced with 
molasses. The slaves were so organized and so quiet and kept to 
themselves so much that they didn't even realize that it had been done.
  The Governor of Denmark who was assigned to the Virgin Islands had to 
sign the emancipation on that date because he knew that this group of 
people were so organized that that rebellion could take the entire 
island out. So we received our emancipation earlier than the African 
Americans received theirs through that organization of grassroots.
  Again, in October of 1878, the slaves had been moved not from slavery 
to slavery but to an organized serfdom where there were labor contracts 
that had to be signed. People were oppressed and living in what many 
here would understand as the sharecropping system but was really a serf 
system. Four women organized the labor rebellion at that time which we 
in the Virgin Islands call the Fireburn. They were willing to burn the 
islands down for just wages for themselves and laborers throughout the 
islands. They forced the signed contracts to have much better wage laws 
in them, much better terms in them for individuals. Those women were 
imprisoned and sent to Denmark--many of them burned at the stake for 
that rebellion. But it was grassroots organizations that were able to 
do that.
  More recently, in the 1950s, there was the creation of the Virgin 
Islands Labor Union, the organizing of cane workers and field workers. 
I am proud to say that my own uncle, Raymond Plaskett, was one of the 
organizers of that. They were able to force the sugar plantation 
owners, the sugar industry, to sit down and create unionized, 
collective bargaining labels. But we would be remiss as a people if we 
kept those organizational skills to ourselves, and we brought that to 
the United States as well.
  Many people know about Denmark Vesey who organized slave rebellions 

[[Page H1350]]

South Carolina. He did that as a freeman, coming from the Virgin 
Islands and understanding that oppression anywhere of anyone was an 
oppression of himself, and gladly laid down his life and gave up his 
freedom to help organize the people of Charleston, South Carolina, that 
my great colleague, James Clyburn, represents to bring freedom to those 
  Hubert Harrison from the island of St. Croix was a civil rights 
activist. He was the mind of Pan-Africanism, along with Edward Blyden 
of St. Thomas, who gave form and shape to Marcus Garvey and his 
organizing of his Back-to-Africa movement.

                              {time}  2115

  More recently, Roy Innis, another relative of mine, was one of the 
leaders of CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality. Stokely Carmichael 
and Malcolm X are people of the Caribbean who have come to the United 
States and recognized that grassroots organizations must be formed to 
push for equal rights.
  The accomplishments of the civil rights movement have given us much. 
It created the momentum of the Civil Rights Act, Brown v. Board of 
Education, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, ended housing discrimination, 
the desegregation of schools. We saw Democratic political gains and the 
March on Washington.
  But we have organized groups still growing today, because equality 
has not come to its full fruition in America. There is still income 
equality, achievement gaps, poverty, unemployment, and an increase in 
the use of for-profit prisons that have incarcerated Black men 
disproportionately. Because of that, we have seen other movements now 
today: Black Lives Matter, founded in 2012 after the death of Trayvon 
Martin; Moral Mondays, which began in April 2013 by the Reverend 
William Barber II of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North 
Carolina, after the Governor's mansion and the State legislature was 
taken over related to voting rights.
  These are injustices that are continuing today, which African 
Americans and others are standing up for, whether it be Standing Rock 
or the Muslim ban. We had the March on Washington and the grassroots 
group Indivisible, which has grown with African Americans and others 
who stood with their constituents at recent townhalls to make sure that 
their Congressmen and -women hear their voices on all issues of 
  Mr. Speaker, we understand that the people of the United States need 
to understand the importance of grassroots organizations as we end 
Black History Month. This has been an outstanding time for Congress, as 
well as the people of America, to hear about the grassroots 
organizations and how they may close.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, the foundation of 
our democracy is built upon the strength of grassroots movements and 
our ability to organize. It is the will of the people--and not the will 
of a select few--that shapes our values as a nation. While leaders and 
institutions play an important role in our society, ultimately it is 
the people themselves who create the momentum to bring about the change 
that they would like to see throughout our society.
  The Civil Rights Movement is a definitive example of the importance 
of grassroots movement. The Civil Rights Movement reshaped our society 
into one that affords equal rights and protection under the law for all 
Americans. But it was also a movement that began at the local level. 
From protests in Virginia over Brown vs. Board of Education to civil 
acts of disobedience in Montgomery, Alabama, the success and momentum 
of the movement was driven by grassroots movements all across the 
United States. Without it, it is difficult to say what kind of country 
the United States would be today.
  The importance of grassroots movements remains clear as day, 
particularly in the 21st Century. The election of President Trump 
sparked countless protests across the country, while uniting millions 
of people globally as individuals came together in opposition to his 
hateful rhetoric targeting minorities, women, and other vulnerable 
segments of the population. It is this momentum that has manifested 
into the Women's March on Washington, which brought millions of people 
in cities around the world to march in support of human rights, racial 
equality, immigration reform, and other progressive ideals. It was a 
dramatic statement of opposition against the perceived wrongs and 
violations in our society, and it will help shape the nature of 
discourse for many years to come.
  These social movements are crucial to our democracy. Grassroots 
movements serve as a counterpoint to injustice and help provide a 
medium through which we as a people can communicate our ideals. As we 
honor Black History Month, we must look to the struggles of our 
ancestors in order to inform our decisions of today, or else we are 
doomed to repeat the same mistakes that already tarnish our history.