SEPARATE AND UNEQUAL: RACISM AND POVERTY 50 YEARS AFTER THE KERNER REPORT; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 38
(House of Representatives - March 05, 2018)

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  SEPARATE AND UNEQUAL: RACISM AND POVERTY 50 YEARS AFTER THE KERNER 
                                 REPORT

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2017, the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Evans) is 
recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.


                             General Leave

  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may 
have 5 days legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and 
include any extraneous material on the subject of the Special Order.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Pennsylvania?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, it is a great honor that I rise today to 
anchor the CBC Special Order. I would like to thank the CBC chairman, 
Chairman Richmond, for his leadership in this effort.
  For the next 60 minutes, we have an opportunity to speak directly to 
the American people about issues of great importance to the 
Congressional Black Caucus and the millions of constituents we 
represent.
  Tonight, Mr. Speaker, I want to speak about a topic that has affected 
this country and plagued us all. Over 50 years ago, in the middle of 
the Detroit riot, President Lyndon B. Johnson established the National 
Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, commonly known as the Kerner 
Commission. The goal of that Commission was to identify the underlying 
causes of the civil unrest in communities across the country.
  This was a time of tremendous tension in our great Nation. Many 
Americans were confused about the root causes of the riots and the 
unsure path forward.
  On February 29, 1968, following several field trips to troubled 
communities, the Commission released the Kerner Report, a 176-page 
report that examined cultural institutional racism, from segregated 
schools and housing discrimination to generational poverty and to 
limited economic opportunity.
  The Commission largely held racism responsible for Black rioting and 
warned that our Nation is moving to two societies, one Black, one 
White--separate and unequal. The Commission called for bold policies to 
counter decades of political failure, such as investment in much-needed 
social services, housing, and education programs; and incentivizing 
diversity among law enforcement.
  Sadly, President Johnson ignored the Kerner Report and rejected its 
recommendations. In the midst of that, we had the assassinations of 
several prominent Americans: President John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, 
and Dr. Martin Luther King.
  Fifty years later, America has made some improvements, but African 
Americans continue to face some of the same issues discussed in the 
Kerner Report.
  Since its release, Black American homeownership has been flat, and 
unemployment is still twice that of White Americans. The Black prison 
population has tripled here in America. It used to be two other 
countries, South Africa during the apartheid years and the former 
Soviet Union, had more people in prison. Now the United States has more 
people in prison than any nation in the world.
  Black household wealth is less than one-fifth of the national 
average, and almost 33 percent of Black children are growing up in 
poverty.
  Recently, Fred Harris, the last living member of the Kerner 
Commission, issued a new report highlighting the persistent issues 
plaguing the Black community and calling on major investments in 
education, workforce development, and a living wage. This comes in 
stark contrast to the severe cuts proposed by President Trump in the 
fiscal year 2019 budget.
  Today, in fact, I attended a meeting for the CEO Council for Growth 
at Drexel University. The council's mission is to lead our region 
forward by convening decisionmakers, taking action, and doing the 
things necessary to strengthen our regional economy.
  With poverty at 26 percent in my district, I am committed to working 
with the CEOs present at today's meeting and others who are using 
creativity and innovation to help reduce poverty, combat hunger, and 
spur economic growth.
  I also attended a discussion at Temple University in Philadelphia. 
Although the recently passed budget was by no means perfect, I firmly 
believe that our leadership and our actions matter.
  So it was great to hear firsthand from professors at Temple 
University today about how the recent jolt in NIH funding will allow 
them to keep their research on the rise. If we want to continue moving 
the needle on poverty reduction, we must make it our priority to invest 
in all of our neighborhoods.
  We are in the business of doing no harm. As elected officials, we are 
here to help move our neighborhoods forward, not backward, and we must 
continue to urgently press for commonsense economic solutions for 
Americans most in need.

  I stand before you today to tell you just as I have always done 
before, we must continue to make ideas matter. We must push for 
commonsense solutions to help move us past the conditions that led to 
the Kerner Report.
  Mr. Speaker, I have my colleague from California (Ms. Lee) here, who 
is someone whom I have watched and observed. As a matter of fact, she 
is the chair leading the effort from the Democratic perspective on 
attacking this issue of poverty. She has been in the forefront of this 
particular issue, and her voice is heard throughout this entire Nation, 
the Honorable Barbara Lee from the 13th District.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Lee).
  Ms. LEE. Mr. Speaker, first, let me thank Congressman Dwight Evans 
for, once again, hosting this very important Special Order and for 
really continuing this fight for racial and economic justice both here 
in the House of Representatives but also in his congressional district. 
So I thank the gentleman very much for his tremendous leadership.
  Fifty years ago at the height of the civil rights movement, violence 
erupted in cities across America. Over generations, systemic racism had 
produced what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called a tale of two cities. 
One city was bright and full of opportunity for a select few, and 
another city was shrouded in darkness and locked in a never-ending 
cycle of poverty.
  African Americans, suffocating under the pressure of institutional 
racism and discrimination, took to the streets.
  After race riots erupted in Watts and Chicago; Newark, New Jersey; 
and Detroit, our government took notice. President Johnson convened the 
Kerner Commission, which Congressman Evans laid out, which had three 
goals to investigate the root cause of the unrest.
  Many activists and civil rights leaders were concerned that the 
Commission wouldn't reveal the true facts. But to our surprise--and I 
remember this very clearly--the report was brutally honest.
  According to the report, White racism was responsible for the rising 
tensions and explosive violence ripping our Nation apart. So that 
should have been a wake-up call.

[[Page H1364]]

  


                              {time}  2030

  Racism had created two societies: one Black, one White, separate and 
unequal. The report identified the problem and proposed a series of 
targeted solutions that could right this terrible wrong.
  According to the report, there were three options for our government:
  One, do nothing, which would result in more riots and economic 
devastation and racial division in our country;
  Two, we could make robust investments into African-American 
neighborhoods and schools;
  Three, take racism and discrimination head-on, removing 
discriminatory barriers that lock African Americans into poverty and 
prevent them from accessing the basics and a basic standard of living.
  Option three, of course, could have drastically changed the lives of 
millions of African Americans. Sadly, the Kerner Commission's report 
was largely ignored. Again, Congressman Evans laid that out.
  Instead of investing in education, employment opportunities, livable 
wages, raising incomes, and pathways out of poverty, this country, 
unfortunately, has allowed institutional racism to divide this Nation. 
Of course, we have made some progress, but this updated report clearly 
shows that is not nearly enough. We really are still a divided country. 
As a result, the findings of the 1968 Kerner Commission's report remain 
constant to this very day.
  In 1968, almost half of all students of color, primarily African 
Americans, went to majority-White schools. Today, that number has 
plummeted to 20 percent.
  In 1968, the unemployment rate for African Americans was 6.7 percent. 
Today, 7.5 percent of African Americans are unemployed.
  In 1968, African Americans were 5.4 times as likely as Whites to be 
in prison or in jail. Today, African Americans are 6.4 times as likely 
as Whites to be incarcerated.
  Five decades have passed and economic inequality still prevents the 
African-American community from accessing the American Dream.
  I represent the 13th Congressional District of California, which 
includes Alameda County. While some are witnessing and experiencing 
enormous wealth and economic growth in my district, 43 percent of 
African-American children in Oakland are living in poverty, 23.6 
percent of African Americans in my district are locked in poverty, and 
the average income for African-American families in the San Francisco 
Bay Area is $46,571 a year, compared to White families, who make more 
than $109,000. That is in my district in the San Francisco Bay Area. 
This gap is one of the hugest gaps in the country. It is a total 
disgrace.
  We should be leveling the economic playing field for African 
Americans across the Nation. Instead, we throw Black workers meager 
wages and apply trickle-down economics that only benefit the rich.
  Our Federal Government should provide the impetus, incentive, and 
investment for good-paying jobs for African-American workers. Instead, 
this administration is attacking unions and produced a budget that guts 
job training programs and a tax law that makes it easier to ship jobs 
overseas.
  We should be investing in affordable housing, which, yes, is a basic 
human right for everyone, including the African-American community. 
Instead, this administration is weakening fair housing laws and 
rationing off affordable housing funding.
  The majority of this administration's proposed budget--the cuts, 
especially--will disproportionately negatively impact African Americans 
and people of color. This really is a twisted and sick reality that 
shouldn't be possible in the United States of America.
  But members of the Congressional Black Caucus are here tonight to say 
that we continue to be determined to change this reality because, yes, 
Black lives do matter. We are here to tell the truth about what is 
dividing America: racism. It is manifest in many forms in our policy, 
in our budget, in our funding priorities, and in many, many ways.
  In January, a group of nearly 100 religious leaders came together to 
issue a unity declaration on racism and poverty. Mr. Speaker, I include 
in the record a letter, a document, entitled, ``Unity Declaration on 
Racism and Poverty,'' and a document entitled, ``Circle of 
Protection.''

                Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

       As leaders from diverse families of U.S. Christianity, we 
     are called by the Spirit to work together with new urgency 
     against the resurgence of racism and the persistence of 
     poverty in America. We see around us an increase of harmful 
     attitudes and policies toward people of color and people in 
     need. That painful reality and the current push for trillions 
     of dollars in cuts to anti-poverty programs are bringing us 
     together in a new way. While we have different positions on 
     other questions, we are united on the gospel and biblical 
     teaching on poverty and racism--feeling invited to do so by 
     the grace of God in Jesus Christ.


       We believe that racism and poverty are theological issues

       The integral relationship between poverty and racism 
     unifies us against both. They are both issues to which the 
     gospel of Jesus Christ speaks--which also calls us to love 
     our neighbors, without exceptions. Our unity on these issues 
     is because they are theological issues for us, not merely 
     political or partisan ones. These fundamentally biblical 
     concerns challenge all of us and both of the major political 
     parties.
       Racism is a sin that goes back to the founding of our 
     nation. At its root, racism is in conflict with the opening 
     declaration in Genesis 1, that we are all made in the image 
     and likeness of God. Racism literally throws away the 
     biblical principle of imago dei--the image of God in all of 
     us, with no exceptions. Racism is a sin against God and all 
     of God's children. Therefore, the whole counsel of God calls 
     us to preach against the sin of racism from all of our 
     churches' pulpits and call for repentance.
       The body of Christ is perhaps the most diverse racial 
     community in the world. When people of color in the body of 
     Christ suffer--while many white members of the body of Christ 
     do not acknowledge their pain--we are violating the principle 
     laid down in 1 Corinthians 12: that we are one body with many 
     parts, who suffer with and honor one another. As Galatians 
     instructs us, ``there is no more Jew or Greek, bond or free, 
     male or female, because we are all united as one in Christ'' 
     (3:28).
       The historical sin of racism lingers on in America today, 
     continuing and evolving in our social systems of economics 
     and education, policing and criminal justice, housing and 
     gentrification, voting rights and suppression, in our racial 
     geography, and, painfully, in the continued segregation of 
     our churches, which adds to our own complicity. Racism is 
     more than individual behavior, language, and overt hostility 
     toward particular people. Racism is systematic and structural 
     in America and harms people of color in very specific, 
     measurable, and tangible ways.
       The failure to defend the lives and dignity of people 
     living in poverty, by individuals or governments, is also a 
     sin against God, with 2,000 verses in the Bible clearly 
     outlining God's fundamental concern for people who are poor, 
     vulnerable, and oppressed, instructing the people of God to 
     protect and help them and holding political leaders 
     responsible for them. Jesus says, in Matthew 25, that how we 
     treat the ``least of these'' is how we treat Christ himself.
       The world and our country have made progress against 
     poverty in recent decades. It is possible to make further 
     progress--perhaps virtually end--hunger and extreme poverty 
     in our time. We see the alleviation of material misery as an 
     experience of God's loving presence in our own time, and 
     believe that God wants us to seize this opportunity.


             To our churches: What we are doing and can do

       Most of our churches are active in helping people in need, 
     struggling people within their congregations or in their 
     communities. We need to do more, but many of our churches 
     directly help millions of people every day. Local church 
     leaders often work to bridge the racial divides in our 
     communities, and many are searching for authentic and 
     specific ways to address the rise of white supremacy.
       Since the God of the Bible requires social justice and 
     charity, our churches and many of our members also work to 
     influence public policies. Christians have a wide array of 
     political viewpoints. But a majority of the leaders of 
     national church bodies have spoken out repeatedly against 
     cuts to programs that provide help and opportunity to hungry 
     and poor people in our country and around the world. We have 
     also spoken out against renewed expressions of white racism, 
     ethnic nationalism, and hateful attitudes toward people of 
     color, immigrants, refugees, Jews, and Muslims. Many of us 
     are active in support of immigration reform, criminal justice 
     reform, and voting rights for all.
       We are deeply troubled by the budget proposals coming from 
     Congress and the president. They outline more than $2 
     trillion of cuts in programs for hungry and poor people in 
     our country and around the world. These cuts would hurt 
     struggling people of all races, including millions of low- 
     and middle-income people who need safety-net programs at some 
     time in their lives. The hardest hit would be African 
     American, Latino, and Native American communities, where the 
     poverty rate is already high, and among people in the poorest 
     countries in the world.
       The threat over the coming year of this broad assault on 
     anti-poverty programs that

[[Page H1365]]

     support families struggling to make ends meet is unifying 
     us--bringing us together in a more vigorous, multiracial 
     Christian movement to maintain a circle of protection around 
     all people in poverty and God's children of color in 
     particular, who are disproportionally impacted.


  To Congress and the White House: Our united appeal for healing and 
                    reform in our nation's politics

       We appeal to the president and Congress to work together 
     for the common good. We especially call upon political 
     leaders who are also people of faith to protect all the 
     people in our country and world who are struggling with 
     economic deprivation and frustration, hunger and poverty, 
     disability and disadvantage--and racial bigotry that often 
     contributes to inaction and hard-heartedness.
       God's love for all people moves us to reach out to people 
     and leaders all across the political spectrum. We respect and 
     pray for all those who are in authority--that our nation and 
     world ``may lead a quiet and peaceable life'' (1 Timothy 2:1-
     2). Conservative and liberal people, and those with differing 
     political philosophies, may disagree on how to live up to our 
     nation's ideals, but our loving God calls all of us to work 
     together for liberty and justice for everyone.
       We appeal to all people, especially Christians, to actively 
     work against racism and poverty--in their personal and local 
     engagement and as advocates for public policies that foster 
     racial equity and healing, shared prosperity, and peace in 
     our country and worldwide. The spiritual power of a fresh, 
     energetic, multiracial Christian movement against both racism 
     and poverty is our prayer. So help us God.


                              SIGNATORIES

       Rev. Eddy M. Aleman, Strategic Director of Leadership 
     Development and Hispanic Ministries, Reformed Church in 
     America
       Rev. Dr. David Anderson, Founder/Senior Pastor, Bridgeway 
     Community Church; President and CEO, BridgeLeader Network
       Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Diocesan Legate and Ecumenical 
     Director, Armenian Orthodox Church
       Bishop Carroll Baltimore, President and CEO, Global 
     Alliance Interfaith Network
       Dr. Jay Barnes, President, Bethel University
       Bishop George E. Battle, Senior Bishop, AME Zion Church
       Rev. David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World
       Rev. Traci D. Blackmon, Executive Minister of Justice and 
     Local Church Ministries, The United Church of Christ
       Bishop Charles E. Blake, Presiding Bishop And Chief 
     Apostle, Church of God in Christ
       Rev. Samuel Borbon, Associate Missioner for Latino/Hispanic 
     Ministry and Program Development, Episcopal Church USA
       Rev. Dr. Peter Borgdorff, Executive Director Emeritus, 
     Christian Reformed Church in North America
       Carol Bremer-Bennett, Director, World Renew USA
       Dr. Amos Brown, Chair, Social Justice Commission, National 
     Baptist Convention USA, Inc.
       Bishop Rosetta Bryson, Presiding Prelate, The Reconcile 
     Group
       Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director, NETWORK 
     Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
       Dr. Tony Campolo, Co-Founder, Red Letter Christians
       Rev. Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations, 
     National Association of Evangelicals
       Mr. Patrick Carolan, Executive Director, Franciscan Action 
     Network
       Mr. John Carr, Director, Initiative on Catholic Social 
     Thought and Public Life, Georgetown University
       Dr. Iva Carruthers, General Secretary, Samuel DeWitt 
     Proctor Conference
       Dr. Fernando Cascante, Executive Director, AETH & The Justo 
     Center
       Rev. Noel Castellanos, President, CCDA
       Rev. Walter Contreras, Vice President, NaLEC; Pasadena 
     Presbyterian Church
       Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune, Director, Ecumenical Poverty 
     Initiative
       The Most Rev. Michael B Curry, Presiding Bishop and 
     Primate, The Episcopal Church
       Rev. Joshua Dubois, Founder and CEO, Values Partnerships
       Rev. Jose Garcia, Senior Advisor for Prayer and Strategic 
     Initiatives, Bread for the World
       Mr. Vince Gonzales, Chair, Racial and Social Justice Task 
     Force, Churches Uniting In Christ
       Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, General Secretary 
     Emeritus, Reformed Church in America; Chair of Board of 
     Directors, Sojourners
       The Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory, Roman Catholic 
     Archbishop of Atlanta
       Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, Executive Director, American Baptist 
     Home Mission Societies
       Dr. Cynthia Hale, Founding Pastor, Ray of Hope Christian 
     Church; Member, Disciples of Christ
       Forest E. Harris, Sr., President, American Baptist College, 
     Director of Black Church Studies, Vanderbilt University 
     Divinity School
       Dr. Frederick D. Haynes, III, Chairman, The Samuel DeWitt 
     Proctor Conference
       Richard B. Hays, George Washington Ivey Professor of New 
     Testament, Duke Divinity School
       Rev. Mitchell Hescox, President and CEO, Evangelical 
     Environmental Network
       Dr. Roberto Hodgson, Director, Multicultural Ministries 
     Church of the Nazarene
       Dr. Shirley Hoogstra, President, Council of Christian 
     Colleges & Universities
       Rev. Teresa Hord-Owens, General Minister, Christian Church 
     (Disciples of Christ)
       Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Faith Community Organizer; Chair, 
     Central Florida Commission on Homelessness; Chair, Community 
     Resource Network
       Hyepin Im, President and CEO, Faith and Community 
     Empowerment
       Rev. Dr. Dale T. Irvin, President and Professor of World 
     Christianity, New York Theological Seminary
       Rev. John K. Jenkins, Pastor, First Baptist Church of 
     Glenarden and Board Member, National Association of 
     Evangelicals
       Sister Carol Keehan, DC, President and CEO, Catholic Health 
     Association of the United States
       Eric LeCompte, Executive Director, Jubilee USA Network
       Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent Emerita, The 
     Wesleyan Church
       Mr. John Lyon, President, World Hope International
       Rev. Carlos Malave, Executive Director, Christian Churches 
     Together
       Sister Donna Markham OP, PhD, President and CEO, Catholic 
     Charities
       Rev. Dr. Walter Arthur McCray, President, National Black 
     Evangelical Association
       Rev. John L. McCullough, President and CEO, Church World 
     Service
       Bishop Vashti McKenzie, 117th Elected and Consecrated 
     Bishop, AME Church
       Bishop Darin Moore, Presiding Prelate of the Mid-Atlantic 
     Episcopal District, AME Zion Church
       Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., Co-Convener National African 
     American Clergy Network
       Rev. F. Salvador Orellana, National Coordinator for Latino 
     Ministries, Intercultural Ministries American Baptist Home 
     Missions Society
       Rev. Ruben N. Ortiz, Latino Field Coordinator, Cooperative 
     Baptist Fellowship
       The Most Reverend Richard E. Pates, Roman Catholic Bishop 
     of Des Moines
       Rev. Dr. James C. Perkins, President, Progressive National 
     Baptist Convention, Inc
       Rev. Daniel Prieto, M.A.R. Chairman, National Hispanic 
     Commission; Missional Coach & Hispanic Multiplication 
     Coordinator, Foursquare Church
       Agustin Quiles, Orlando, Florida
       Soong-Chan Rah, Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism, 
     North Park Theological Seminary
       Ms. Diane E. Randall, Executive Secretary, Friends 
     Committee on National Legislation
       Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick, CEO, Christian Methodist 
     Episcopal Church
       Bishop Frank Madison Reid III, Presiding Bishop, AME 
     Ecumenical & Urban Affairs
       Dr. W. Franklin Richardson, Chairman, Conference of 
     National Black Churches
       Jose Luis (Pepe) Romero, Hispanic Affairs Specialist, 
     United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
       Andrew Ryskamp, Executive Director Emeritus, World Renew
       Dr. Stephen Schneck, Director of the Institute for Policy 
     Research & Catholic Studies, The Catholic University of 
     America
       Dr. Ronald Sider, President Emeritus, Evangelicals for 
     Social Action
       Rev. Arthur Simon, President Emeritus, Bread for the World
       Dr. T. DeWitt Smith, Co-Convener, National African American 
     Clergy Network
       Rev. Eldridge Spearman, Pastor, Mt. Jezreel Baptist Church, 
     National Baptist Convention, USA Inc.
       Gregory E. Sterling, Henry L Slack Dean and Lillian Claus 
     Professor of New Testament, Yale Divinity School
       Ervin R. Stutzman, Executive Director, Mennonite Church USA
       Rev. Lori Tapia, National Pastor for Hispanic Ministries, 
     Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
       Rev. Adam Taylor, Executive Director, Sojourners
       Dr. Steven Timmermans, Executive Director, Christian 
     Reformed Church in North America
       Bishop Joseph W. Walker, III, International Presiding 
     Bishop, Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International, 
     Inc.
       Rev. Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojouners
       Colin P. Watson, Director of Ministries and Administration, 
     Christian Reformed Church in North America
       Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Co-Convener, National African 
     American Clergy Network; President, Skinner Leadership 
     Institute
       Rev. Jim Winkler, President and National Secretary, 
     National Council of Churches
       Bishop Jesse Yanez, Director, Church of God of the Prophecy 
     N.A.
                                  ____



                                         Circle of Protection,

                                                  January 29, 2017
       Dear Members of Congress: As the president and Congress are 
     preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church 
     leaders--from all the families of U.S. Christianity--are 
     sharing a common ``Unity Statement'' on racism and poverty. 
     As Christians, we are grounded in God's love for all people, 
     and we feel called to ask our churches and political leaders 
     of both parties to work together to overcome racism and 
     poverty which are theological, biblical, and gospel issues 
     for us, not merely political or partisan ones.
       This moment in time and the clear movement of the Spirit 
     have brought diverse multi-racial church leaders together 
     over the last several months for dinner conversations and 
     times of prayer. Out of those moving times together, we 
     developed a Unity Statement on Racism and Poverty. It has 
     attracted many more racially and theologically diverse church 
     leaders and is now

[[Page H1366]]

     embraced by the Circle of Protection, the broadest group of 
     Christian leaders focused on poverty. The leaders who have 
     signed this statement are from African-American, Hispanic, 
     Asian-American, Native American, Evangelical, Catholic, 
     Pentecostal, and mainline Protestant churches; and many 
     national faith-based organizations. We are all committed to 
     help build a fresh, newly energetic, multi-racial Christian 
     movement to make the integral connection between racism and 
     poverty and seek the spiritual power to end both. We are also 
     committed to working in alliance with other faith communities 
     on the crucial intersection of racism and poverty as it is 
     worked out in public policies. While the Circle of Protection 
     is a Christian group, we believe this statement reflects the 
     values and principles of people of diverse faiths.
       We are purposefully sending you this statement before you 
     go to your respective retreats. In addition to reading this 
     statement thoughtfully, we ask for the following three 
     things: first, we ask you to discuss this statement and the 
     issues central to it--racism and poverty--at your retreats; 
     second, we ask you to incorporate these concerns into your 
     policy decisions and legislation in 2018 and beyond; third, 
     we ask you to convene meetings with faith leaders in your 
     communities to plan follow-up action on these issues in your 
     states and districts. Racism and poverty are systemic issues 
     that are central to the Bible and the teachings of Jesus. 
     Therefore, they are critical to policy choices made by 
     political leaders of faith and conscience. We will be 
     following up with you directly to see how we can be helpful 
     and useful to you as you consider these deeply biblical and 
     theological issues.
       We believe if we Christians from diverse backgrounds and 
     traditions were known, not mostly for our divisions, but for 
     our unity in a shared commitment to faithfully address both 
     racism and poverty--together--it could be powerful force--
     both for our churches and the country. So help us God.
     Rev. Jim Wallis,
       President and Founder, Sojourners;
     Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner,
       Co-Convener, National African-American Clergy Network and 
     President, Skinner Leadership Institute;
     Rev. David Beckmann,
       President, Bread for the World;
     Rev. Carlos Malave,
       Executive Director, Christian Churches Together USA (in his 
     personal capacity).

  Ms. LEE. Mr. Speaker, I want to share a passage from the unity 
statement that was developed. This was an ecumenical group of over 100 
religious denominations: ``Racism is more than individual behavior, 
language, and overt hostility toward particular people. Racism is 
systematic and structural in America and harms people of color in very 
specific, measurable, and tangible ways.''
  Mr. Speaker, the Kerner report, unfortunately, was ignored, and 50 
years later, we are still feeling and reaping the consequences. The 
difficult truth is that, until we address the impact of the middle 
passage and slavery of generations of African Americans and believe 
that truth and reconciliation must happen, 50 years from now, two 
cities will have destroyed the very fabric of our Nation.
  As the unity declaration goes on to say: ``Racism is a sin that goes 
back to the founding of our Nation.''
  We know what is plaguing our society, and we know what to do about 
it. The time for talk is over. It is time we do what is right for all 
Americans. Yes, Black lives do matter.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I heard the gentlewoman say, obviously, 1968, 
and we are now in 2018. I yield to the gentlewoman to tell me what she 
thinks, in terms of the conditions in 1968, which were obviously the 
riots, to where we are in 2018. I know there has been some progress, 
but in terms of things moving back.
  Ms. LEE. Mr. Speaker, in many communities, housing was segregated. We 
passed fair housing laws. Affordable housing now is out of reach for 
many African Americans. This administration is now gutting all of our 
fair housing programs, our public housing programs, our Section 8 
programs.
  The banks, of course, did target African-American communities for 
these subprime scam loans. Unfortunately, any equity that had been 
built in the homes that we purchased after 1968 is gone. So the wealth 
gap is huge. It is greater than what it was probably in 1968.
  When you look at the number of African Americans who were unemployed 
in 1968, I believe it was a little over 5 percent. Now we are looking 
at 7 percent.
  When you look at the incarceration rates for the war on drugs, the 
marijuana laws in this country, especially in the eighties and the 
impacts of that, we have so many of our young African-American men 
incarcerated for misdemeanor and felony charges for marijuana 
distribution and use. We are looking at mass incarceration that has 
taken place since 1968 of African-American young men and women.
  So, yes, we have made a lot of progress. I stand here as the 100th 
Black Member of Congress. Mr. Evans is here. We have a Congressional 
Black Caucus that has increased in size. We have many, many allies in 
our fight. But I think what we haven't addressed is the issue of racism 
and institutional racism, because it is so subconscious for so many 
people until many decisions are made which negatively impact the 
African-American community.
  So from 1968 to now, we have made some progress. We have some great 
professionals, people doing wonderful things in our community. We have 
great leaders. We have great scientists, lawyers, doctors, teachers, 
firefighters, and workers. We have so many people who have been able to 
lift themselves into the middle class, but we have left so many behind.
  That is the point, I think, that, while this new report shows that 
some of us have progressed, we didn't do what was necessary to bring 
everyone along with us, to lift everyone out of poverty in the Black 
community and provide for a level playing field for equality, for 
parity, and for a pathway into the American Dream.
  That is really very sad and very shameful, but I have a lot of hope 
that our young people and that we here in the House and that the 
country really begin to understand that we have to address the root 
causes of what has happened in this country as it relates to the middle 
passage and slavery, and to understand that what we see today in these 
respects that cause these economic and racial disparities go right back 
to the unfortunate, devastating, and horrific middle passage.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman to speak about the 
panel she is leading on poverty.
  Ms. LEE. Mr. Speaker, several years ago, we established the Whip's 
Task Force on Poverty, Inequality, and Opportunity. For so many years, 
I wanted to see our caucus talk about more issues relating to low-
income and working people and people of color. I really appreciate our 
whip, Steny Hoyer, and our leader, Nancy Pelosi, for rallying around 
this concept of looking around all these issues of poverty, inequality, 
and opportunity.
  We put together this task force to begin to look at the policies that 
not only we need to support that are lifting people out of poverty, but 
what we need to do to fight against some of the policies and funding 
priorities that would lead more people into the ranks of the poor.
  This task force now has over 100 people. We have meetings with 
experts, with organizations that are doing wonderful work throughout 
the country in communities of color and low-income communities and the 
Black communities, really demonstrating that there are some grassroots 
efforts and community efforts that, while here in Congress we haven't 
been able to change many policies, at the grassroots levels and the 
community level there are some wonderful people doing some great things 
to help lift people out of poverty and into the middle class.
  So we try to highlight and showcase those organizations and 
individuals so that we can replicate them around the country, so that, 
until we can get the policies right, we can support those efforts that 
are taking place that are really doing a wonderful job.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. 
Ellison), someone I had the pleasure of spending time with. We have a 
little running conversation with the Eagles playing in the Super Bowl. 
He has turned out to be a very good friend in spite of that.
  He has traveled this Nation and been very thoughtful in his comments 
and the things he has said. He wanted to really weigh in on this 
subject. He has been in the forefront of economic opportunity, poverty 
reduction, racism, and income equality. He has been in there.

[[Page H1367]]

  

  Mr. ELLISON. Mr. Speaker, even though the gentleman from 
Pennsylvania's football team, the Eagles, beat the Vikings pretty 
badly, I forgive him for that because at least they beat New England 
and Tom Brady.
  Now, on to the serious business.
  I thank the gentleman, Mr. Evans, for hosting this Special Order 
talking about the Kerner Commission.
  I was born and raised in the city of Detroit. I am honored to 
represent Minnesota. I am a Minnesotan and very proud of Minnesota, but 
I started life out in the city of Detroit.
  I remember 1968. I was born in August of 1963. I distinctly remember 
the riots. As a small child, my father was a medical professional, and 
I remember him being gone for long hours, coming home extremely tired. 
I remember the earnest conversations my parents were having, talking 
about the riots.
  I remember looking outside my door and seeing military-style vehicles 
driving by, which is something we didn't really see. I remember being 
afraid because we heard some noises, and my mother had me and my 
brothers get under the bed.
  I had no idea, really, what was going on, but those memories for me 
are very vivid because, when you are a child and your parents are 
afraid, you can feel it. I don't think I will ever forget it.
  As I got older, I wanted to know more about the causes of the riots, 
and I learned and read about the Kerner Commission. The Kerner 
Commission's report was designed to focus on all of the civil 
disturbances that had been happening in the United States, including 
the Detroit riot, which I was alive and have some memory of.

                              {time}  2045

  I think it is difficult for young people who want to understand the 
Kerner Commission report--a report that was prophetic, a report that 
was thorough and important, a report that was actually a pretty good 
piece of literature that had good recommendations that our country has 
never really taken seriously.
  But to understand this report and to really delve into the roots of 
it, I think it is important, Mr. Speaker, to understand that, before 
1968, before there ever was a Kerner Commission report, our country, 
the United States, was a slave-holding nation for about 250 years. If 
you mark African-American presence in the United States from 1619 and 
you say slavery officially ended in 1865, America, our country, the 
United States, was a slave-holding nation longer than it was not one--
longer, actually longer. This country held men, women, and children in 
bondage in absolute absence of freedom for longer than it has not, 
which is particularly ironic, given that our country is dedicated to 
liberty and freedom.
  Literally millions of Americans existed in a state of anti-freedom, 
which is slavery. We have yet to contemplate it.
  I remember going to law school studying property and contracts. We 
never talked about America's greatest amount of property, which is 
human property. We never actually asked: What is the law about leasing 
on slaves? What is the law about property ownership on slaves? What is 
this species of property?
  We talked about real estate. We talked about other forms of property. 
We talked about intellectual property. But for many years of this 
Nation's history, the predominant form of property was human property 
in the United States, and we never stopped to even slow down.
  I bet you there is not more than two or three law schools in the 
United States that take on this topic so that people can really 
understand the ground upon which we stand. We are in the U.S. Capitol, 
built by people who were not free. In this cathedral of freedom, the 
people who built it were not free for 250 years.
  People stand by and say: Why don't you all get over that? You are 
always talking about that.
  I say: Well, you all still celebrate the Fourth of July.
  We are all proud on the Fourth of July that happened in 1776, but we 
are not supposed to talk about an institution that prevailed in the 
United States for most of its history.
  And it wasn't quite over in 1865, was it?
  No. In 1865, we passed the 13th Amendment banning involuntary 
servitude. We passed the 14th Amendment granting citizenship in, I 
think, 1868. In 1870, we passed the 15th Amendment granting Black men 
the right to vote.
  This is essentially war measures. I am glad they exist, trust me. I 
am quite grateful they exist. But when you consider that over 200,000 
Black soldiers took up arms to keep the Union--the Union--it was the 
very least that could happen that Black men would get to vote. Black 
women didn't get to vote.
  But then after that, it is important, Mr. Speaker, to bear in mind 
another phenomenon took place. By 1877, the Tilden-Hayes compromise was 
effected, in which there was a dead heat political election. And the 
Republicans of that day, who, ironically, were the people who were 
against slavery at that time and against racism and bigotry, they said: 
We are tired of fighting about racism, slavery, and what is to happen 
with the Freedman. We will pull Union troops out of the South if you 
Democrats give us the election.
  That allowed Rutherford B. Hayes to become President. Samuel Tilden 
did not become the President, but the Southerners, Democrats at that 
time, got what they wanted.
  This phenomenon that occurred after that was the end of 
reconstruction. Lynching, slavery by another name, and true terrorism, 
under the auspices of the Ku Klux Klan, reined in America at this time. 
Pulaski, Tennessee, was the home of the Klan. But there were many other 
White supremacist groups that received the sanction of our government. 
In fact, one might even argue that the whole government of the State of 
Indiana at one time was dominated by the Klan.
  People interested in this phenomena can study a very important piece 
of film and book called ``Slavery By Another Name,'' that talked about 
convict leasing. The 13th Amendment says that you cannot hold anybody 
in an involuntary servitude unless convicted of a crime.
  That loophole allowed our country to use the criminal justice system 
to push Black men into it to take advantage of their labor through 
convict leasing. And even though the industry in Alabama of steelmaking 
really had not taken root during slavery, it did take root after 
slavery. The people who mined the iron ore and who worked in those 
mines were, essentially, in convict leasing.
  Convict leasing prevailed in our country up until the 1930s and 
1940s. In fact, cotton production dropped after the Civil War, but then 
went back up because of convict leasing because Black men and women 
were held in bondage through an unjust criminal justice system that 
forced them to work cotton up until mechanization made hand cotton 
picking not advantageous anymore. That, together with the sharecropping 
system, maintained that system.
  We think about the Kerner Commission report, we think about the riots 
of 1968, 1965, and 1966, all of these things, Black rage exploding on 
the national scene, and people ask: What are they mad about?
  Two hundred and fifty years of slavery and 100 years after Jim Crow 
after that might make you a little upset.
  Black people never missed a war. African-American soldiers helped 
fight for the Union; African-American soldiers helped fight in Korea; 
the Spanish-American war. As a matter of fact, you can't name a 
military conflict that Black people didn't fight for this country and 
die for it. Yet, after the service, usually we came back to racism and 
discrimination.
  There is a great movie out now called ``Mudbound'' about this very 
phenomena. If people want to learn more about this, they can look at 
this film ``Mudbound'' about a Black soldier who comes back, gets 
treated with human dignity in Europe, comes back to Mississippi, and 
then gets lynched.
  This is our country. I am proud of my country and I love my country, 
but I am not blind to it.
  The Kerner Commission tried to open our eyes and tell us what was 
really going on. One of the phenomenon--and I would like to just note 
this--is that one of the many ways that racism manifested itself is 
through residential segregation. Blacks were not allowed to live in 
certain areas, work in certain areas, and, in 1903, the great Woodrow

[[Page H1368]]

Wilson kicked Black people out of Federal employment. His reason was 
that we carry disease. This is in the modern era. Black people were 
relegated to living in certain neighborhoods. And, actually, when it 
was found to be illegal to say Blacks can't live in this neighborhood 
by the Supreme Court, then that is when redlining took hold.
  Residential segregation was so effective, Mr. Speaker, for 50 years, 
that we now in America today--and I am talking about 2018--if you 
survey White Americans and you ask them, Have you had a significant and 
meaningful conversation in the last 6 months, who are those people and 
who are the top seven, 91 percent of White Americans will say that they 
haven't had a meaningful conversation with a person of color.
  Residential segregation is so bad that we don't talk to each other. 
The result is no empathy--no sympathy; no empathy; no sense of, gee, 
that is really too bad.
  People say: Well, they don't work hard. That is the problem.
  Well, wait a minute. How could it be that the people who worked for 
250 years for free don't work hard? How could it be that people who 
don't have any power are some big threat to be feared in this Nation 
when all we have done is serve it and build it?
  At the end of the day, the Kerner Commission tried to highlight 
discrimination against African Americans in education, housing, and 
employment; tried to help the Nation understand why some African 
Americans get enraged about incidents of official violence; why we 
don't condone, nor even do we agree, with riots.
  We cannot act like we don't understand them. Of course we understand 
them. Many of us have chosen that we are going to try to reform our 
country and help it reach its promise through our electoral system, 
through organizing, and activism. We are going to try to make America a 
stronger and better place by working within the systems that exist.
  I am proud that I am one of those people. But I often have to find 
myself trying to convince people who don't agree with me that there are 
answers within the system that I am right and they are not, because 
they come with arguments sometimes based on the history.
  The bottom line is the Kerner Commission report, 50 years ago today, 
we have made progress. There is no doubt about it. We don't have Jim 
Crow anymore. But we have also seen stagnation.
  There is a new report by the Eisenhower Foundation, which shows that 
since the late 1960s, income inequality and the wealth gap have 
actually gotten wider. While high school and college graduation rates 
have improved for the Black community since the Kerner Commission 
report--thank goodness, and this is an important advance, and we are 
grateful for it--these gains in access have not translated in economic 
vitality.
  Black families have the highest student debt. Thirty-one percent of 
all Black families have college debt, compared to about 20 percent of 
White families. College debt is tough on families of any color, but 
African Americans, having a lower overall income and a much lower 
wealth, have to borrow more to seek out education, and that is limiting 
African-American opportunity.
  More than 70 percent of White families own their own homes compared 
to less than half of Black and Hispanic families. Since 1968, White 
homeownership has steadily increased, but Black homeownership has not 
changed. In 1968, 41 percent of Black families owned their own home.
  And what is the homeownership rate today?
  Now it is 41.2.
  Given what I shared with you earlier about residential segregation 
and about how Blacks and Whites and Latinos don't really interact 
nearly as much as they should, given the fact that we are all 
Americans, people may not understand why African-American economic 
progress has not been as swift as we might want it to be.
  To that I say it is a matter of residential segregation and even 
current redlining. I recommend to people to read an important book 
called ``Evicted'' by Matthew Desmond, and also listen to a podcast 
called ``Reveal'' about redlining. This prospect of redlining is very 
important. ``Reveal'' looked at literally thousands and thousands of 
pieces of data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. They found that, 
in 61 metropolitan areas in the United States, there is substantial 
evidence of mortgage discrimination. That is African Americans, who got 
the same credit score, the same down payment as other people, who are 
denied loans.

  Mr. Speaker, this even happens in neighborhoods where Black people 
are the majority.
  People wonder: How is it that you have gentrification?
  Well, the Black person with the downpayment and the 700 credit score 
gets told that they cannot have a loan; and the White person with the 
500 or 600 credit score and a 3 percent downpayment gets told: Sure, 
have the loan.
  It is happening every day.
  Listen to the podcast ``Reveal.'' You will see a woman who went 
through this herself. It left her not only without a house, but she had 
to have her partner, who is White and Asian mix, be the one who took 
out the mortgage because they wouldn't give her one.
  I am saying that our country is truly a great nation, but to get to 
its true greatness, it has got to confront racial discrimination. I am 
not talking about prejudice. I am talking about racism.
  What is the difference?
  Prejudice means I don't like you because of your color, your race, 
and it is a personal thing. It is just I don't like you.
  What I am talking about by racism is systematic denial of opportunity 
without regard to personality.
  They didn't turn that Black woman down in that ``Reveal'' podcast 
because they didn't like her. They don't know her. They know she is 
Black, and that is all they need to know to turn her down.
  This is what we have to confront as a country.
  And as I close, Congressman Evans, and as I get ready to take my 
seat, I just want to point out that, in 2016, White families had a 
median net worth of $171,000 compared to $17,000 for Blacks and $20,000 
for Latinos. Sixty percent of White families reported having retirement 
savings, which is double the rate for Black and Hispanic families.
  We have to understand what Martin Luther King tried to teach us, and 
that is: What difference does it make if you can sit at a lunch counter 
if you cannot afford a hamburger?

                              {time}  2100

  The Kerner Commission tried to signal to us the way forward. In 2018, 
we still have the opportunity to take the lessons of it and to build a 
truly beloved society, as Martin Luther King tried to teach us, but it 
cannot just be platitudes and pretty talk. It has got to be real 
commitment, real money, and real investment in opportunity for all.
  At the end of the day, in the United States, we say, as we say the 
Pledge of Allegiance, ``liberty and justice for all.'' I say economic 
liberty and economic justice for all, and I say we will then see much 
more social inclusion, and we will live up to the recommendations of 
the Kerner Commission. We can't wait another 50 years.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the gentleman a question. 
I hope people heard him. I want to ask a couple things.
  The goal of the Commission was to identify the underlying causes of 
the civil unrest in communities across the country, and obviously a lot 
has happened in that 50 years. Technology, trade policies, tax 
policies, education policies, all those types of things have occurred, 
and it is clear knowing--obviously, in 1968, they didn't know anything 
about the internet, trade policies, tax policies.
  Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the gentleman: Should there be 
another commission report? Should there be something that, in a sense, 
tries to update, in 2018, knowing the circumstances that we are in, and 
especially poverty has even grown more?
  Mr. Speaker, I told you, in the district I am in, which has a lot of 
wealth with major universities, there is 26 percent poverty. In 1968, 
there was a riot in the city of Philadelphia.
  Now, we don't have riots, you know, fortunately, anymore today in 
communities, but do we have a form of quiet riot that is occurring in 
these communities, not physically the way they were, but in some way 
there is still this growing gap? So we know what the goal was.

[[Page H1369]]

  

  Mr. ELLISON. Right.
  Mr. EVANS. We know the goal was to identify the underlying causes of 
the civil unrest.
  Mr. Speaker, what I hear Mr. Ellison saying with that 250 years, the 
first time I ever heard that described that way, I would ask him to 
talk to us a little bit about here it is 2018, 50 years later, with all 
these things that have happened.
  I yield to the gentleman from Minnesota.
  Mr. ELLISON. Mr. Speaker, I think another Kerner Commission report is 
definitely appropriate. It is right. It is good. But I will say that 
the Eisenhower Foundation did a report that showed that, since the late 
1960s, income inequality and the wealth gap have widened.
  I really believe that what we really need to do is say to ourselves, 
as a nation, that we are going to actually live out the true meaning of 
our creed. At the end of the day, the problem is not intellectual; the 
problem is a matter of will.
  Actually, we have real challenges in our Nation today because, I 
happen to believe, we have a President who is less willing to move 
progress forward than even other Republicans who have been in office.
  We live in a time, now, where we have seen the rollback of the 1965 
Voting Rights Act. We have seen the--right now, there is an attack on 
public employees in the Supreme Court. It feels like 1870.
  You remember I was talking about the Civil War. Black soldiers 
entered the Civil War in 1863 after the Emancipation Proclamation; 
200,000 fought in that Civil War. Black soldiers helped win the Civil 
War and maintained the Union. In fact, Lincoln himself said that, 
without Black soldiers, we might not have a Union.
  We went through Reconstruction. Of course, Lincoln was killed in 
April of 1865, but by 1870, we began to roll back, we began to see the 
progress and the promise roll back.
  It feels a little bit like that right now. It feels a little bit like 
that. But, you know, we are not going back to them bad old days. I want 
everyone to hear that African Americans, Latinos, women, the LGBT 
community, people of other religious groups, minority religions, we are 
not going to the back of the bus. It is just not going to happen.
  Better to say, okay, instead of having one group in America be 
supreme over everyone, what if that group were simply equal to 
everyone?
  Some people in our country seem to believe that having 43 Presidents 
who are White men, you get one that is Black, and now, all of a sudden, 
oh, my God, the world is coming to an end. No, it isn't. Everything is 
fine. Everyone is fine. It just means that what we wrote on paper is 
actually getting reflected a little bit more in reality.
  I think we need to make a firm commitment to end housing 
discrimination, a firm commitment to let the people vote, a firm 
commitment to stop giving tax breaks to the richest people and give the 
working and middle class a chance to earn a decent level of pay.
  I think we need a Republican caucus who will help work with us to 
stop the carnage of guns on these streets and to allow people who have 
come here as children not to be thrown out of the country summarily. 
That is what we really need. But I am not getting the sense that they 
want to help out, so I am thinking we need to get elections that will 
get some people, Republican or Democrat, to come out here and do some 
good things for the American people--and not just the wealthiest, most 
privileged people.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his comments.
  Mr. Speaker, we have another person, who is a neighbor of mine and 
has been a very good friend, from the great State of New Jersey. We 
have got that Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman Bridge connection. He is 
a very good friend.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Payne), 
from the 10th District of New Jersey.
  Mr. PAYNE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from the Keystone State 
for hosting tonight's Special Order hour. He has demonstrated great 
leadership during this time, and the issues that we are tackling during 
these Special Order hours are very important to this country as we move 
forward.

  As has been stated today, it has been 50 years since the Kerner 
report warned us that the Nation was headed into a separate and unequal 
future. The Kerner report was supposed to be a wake-up call for the 
United States to break the cycle that kept African-Americans in 
poverty. It called for government to invest in job creation programs, 
to expand public housing, and to guarantee minimum family incomes. The 
Kerner report understood that such actions were necessary for the 
United States to confront its legacy of race and inequality.
  Unfortunately, 50 years later, the same problems persist. The rate of 
child poverty in the United States today is greater than it was in 
1968. The percent of Americans who live in the depths of poverty has 
grown as well. Welfare reform has failed. African-American unemployment 
is still nearly double the rate of our White counterparts. Labor 
unions, once a great equalizer for workers, have shrunk, and inequality 
has grown.
  Rich people in the United States are healthier than poor people. They 
live longer. They go to better schools, get better jobs, and generate 
more wealth. They are also more likely to be White than to be Black.
  Our schools are more segregated than they were in the 1980s. Our 
prisons are darker. The Voting Rights Act, a landmark achievement of 
the civil rights movement, has been gutted.
  These and other barriers to equality threaten our democracy.
  The resegregation of our schools means that people of color and those 
who struggle with poverty are often forced to go to underfunded 
schools. Their education suffers. They aren't given adequate 
preparation for college or a trade school, and they ultimately make 
less money than their White counterparts.
  A recent Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco study found that Black 
men and women earn persistently lower wages compared to their White 
counterparts, a gap that cannot be fully explained by differences in 
age, education, job type, or location.
  So what can Congress do? We need to invest in housing programs that 
help desegregate communities once again. We need to make it easier for 
people of color to get federally backed loans to buy homes and finally 
do away with red lining.
  We need to invest in public schools. We need to expand preschool 
education. We need to spend money on job training programs and public 
universities.
  We need to increase the minimum wage, and we need to strengthen 
oversight of mortgage lenders.
  We need to restore the Voting Rights Act, because people who cannot 
vote cannot lead.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to, if I can, just follow up a 
little bit on the Voting Rights Act.
  Obviously, that is the foundation of a democracy, and it is rather 
amazing to me that all of us in this Congress are elected by the 
people. I tell people the greatest title is citizen. It is not 
Congressman; it is not President; it is citizen.
  So, Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the gentleman to speak a little 
bit about what has that impact been about the Voting Rights Act, as he 
sees it today, and the fact that, for some reason, this Congress 
doesn't seem to understand that we still need the Voting Rights Act in 
2018.
  Mr. PAYNE. Mr. Speaker, I would say that, as we have all stated 
tonight, it apparently appears that we are going backwards in this 
country, and so why wouldn't the Voting Rights Act be under attack? It 
was finally the opportunity for African-American citizens to be full 
citizens.
  The only right you are born with in the United States of America is 
the right to vote as an American citizen. You are born with that right, 
and yet it is stripped away through the gutting of the Voting Rights 
Act.
  So what does that say to people who fall under the Voting Rights Act? 
It says that you are not equal, that you don't deserve the same rights 
as other Americans, that somehow you are less than a first-class 
citizen in this country, yet you can go to war for us, you can do other 
things, contribute to this society, but not be able to vote. The three-
fifths compromise, we can go all the way back to that and talk about 
the inequality.

[[Page H1370]]

  So we need people of goodwill on both sides of the issue, on both 
sides of the aisle, to understand how equality is arrived at and come 
together and do the things that we need to do in order to make this a 
more perfect Union. I believe in that. I have not always seen it, but I 
believe that we need to continue to strive to make this a more perfect 
Union, to live out the mantra of this great Nation.
  This is the greatest country in the world, no question about it, 
absolutely incredible, but let's live up to it. Let's really live up to 
what this Nation stands for, because you don't need people who are 
citizens here that don't believe in what you are saying.
  Every day, we get up and we pledge allegiance to the flag like every 
other resident, every other citizen in this country, but every once in 
a while it fails us. We need to stay vigilant. We at the Congressional 
Black Caucus will be the voice and be vigilant on this floor in this 
House for people throughout this country who seem to be on the wrong 
side of this issue.

                              {time}  2115

  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, how much time do I have remaining?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Hollingsworth). The gentleman from 
Pennsylvania has 6 minutes remaining.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, what others have heard this evening from the 
Congressional Black Caucus is sort of like a canary in the mine. The 
Kerner Report, when President Johnson established it 50 years ago, was 
an attempt to shine a light and to send a warning that we were two 
nations, one Black and one White. And for every Member who stood up 
here and spoke, they all talked about how proud they are, as Americans; 
and that we all recognize the beauty and the idea of America and what 
it has meant.
  I come from the city of Philadelphia, where it all started. In those 
conversations, there is no question it started out as a very flawed 
document, where African Americans and women basically were left out of 
that discussion.
  But as you think about what my good friend from Minnesota said as he 
laid out the historical aspect to where we are here in 2018 and the 
opportunity we have--because I do believe we have an opportunity, and I 
do believe it is not any more words on paper. It is not a report or 
anything. It is a question of what is in our hearts collectively.
  I don't think this is a Democrat or Republican issue. I don't think 
this is a Black or White issue. I think this is an issue about 
inclusion and involvement. I think that when you go back to that report 
that talks about the underlying causes of the civil unrest in these 
communities across this country, I think that we all have an obligation 
to try to address those issues.
  The issues are very fundamental. May you live in rural America, or 
urban America, or suburban America, you know, everybody needs quality 
healthcare. Everyone needs a job opportunity. Everyone needs a good, 
solid education. And those things we should not take lightly. All of 
those things, we all need.
  So what we, as the Congressional Black Caucus, attempted to do is 
continue to raise the consciousness and to get people to understand 
that we still have a lot of work to do. This should not be taken 
lightly; that we all recognize that though, as Dr. King used to say, we 
have come over here on different boats, we are in the same boat now; 
and that boat is America; that boat is we are in a much more 
competitive world than in 1968. This is 2018. The world has radically 
changed.
  The question is: Are we going to be in the forefront of the change, 
or are we going to be in the back of change?
  I like to believe we should be in the forefront of change. I like to 
believe that we all understand, as a country, that it is in our 
collective interests to work together and to make a difference. I am 
not saying to you it will be easy. And it was not easy in 1968.
  As I said, President Johnson was a Democrat, but he did not heed the 
report the way he should have probably heeded it. But it is no use 
talking about the past.
  The question is: How do we deal with the future, and where do we go?
  We should applaud him and others for at least having the discussion. 
We should not be fearful of discussion. We should all recognize that we 
have some challenges ahead for us in the 21st century.
  Again, I will repeat myself. It will not be easy. It will take a lot 
of work, and it will take us confronting those issues that we face 
today. It is not easy, as we have debated the issue about healthcare or 
the issue about jobs or the issue about education. Everybody wants to 
work. Everybody wants a quality job and a quality opportunity. No one 
wants to sit on the sidelines.
  So we have a chance today, in my view, to take advantage of the 
opportunities. I hope we will, Mr. Speaker. I believe that all members 
of the Congressional Black Caucus strongly feel that way. I thank the 
chairman of our caucus for initiating these efforts that we have been 
doing for this last year or so. I really appreciate that opportunity.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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