Special to Inside The Pew
“Our Black politicians did it to us again,” the Rev. William Owens, the president of the Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP), said passionately during a press conference Feb. 13 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. He was referencing what he and 20 other national black leaders felt was the worst representation by the Congressional Black Caucus demonstrated during the televised State of the Union Address.
The tone set by the caucus angered numerous national black leaders, prompting many groups to convene in Washington, D.C. to address what they considered was a severe misrepresentation and a disservice to the achievements of blacks in this country.
Owens joined by over 20 national leaders such as Stephen Broden: Senior Pastor Fair Park Bible Fellowship, President Protect Life and Marriage; Dr. Alveda King (Civil Rights For The UnBorn); Bishop Leon Benjamin (Coalition Of Leaders United); Shirley Husar (CEO Urban Game Changers); the Rev. Dean Nelson (Frederick Douglas Foundation); the Rev. Derek McCoy (Urban Cure); Dr. Randy Short (International Human Rights Association For American Minorities); Dr. Johnny Hunter (Life Education and Resource Network); Jonathan Alexander (Liberty Counsel Action); Suzzanne Monk (Political Pundit from Chicago); Johnny Rice for Congress (D.C.); and Kenneth McClenton (President of Exceptional Conservative Show) joined forces to expressed their disappointment and mismanagement of the People’s power entrusted to the Congressional Black Caucus.
“The disgrace before the global community by the CBC (Congressional Black Caucus) during the State of the Union Address was the worst I have ever witnessed in my life as a black father, educator, civil rights activist, and man of faith. Our elected officials’ demonstration of childish behavior; sulking in their seats, texting, pretending to be disinterested, was distasteful. We did not elect children, we thought we had leaders,” Owens said.
Collectively the leaders called to question what they characterized as “foul demeanor” and demanded either the caucus start “REPRESENTING or GO AWAY.” Also, CAAP launched an online petition “CROSSROAD” that will be hand-delivered to black caucus members’ offices to demonstrate the will of the people. Individuals are encouraged to sign by visiting www.caapusa.org.
In addition, the multifaceted group rolled out its new 2018 Black Agenda to counter the fallout among younger blacks who have lost interest in political engagement in hopes of inspiring civic engagement. To attract a younger demographic, the group is utilizing social media platforms to promote the hashtag #representorgoaway. Many of the speakers at the press conference extensively expounded on what numerous officials don’t want known about the current effectiveness of the caucus.
Owens and others indicated, “What began 46 years ago in March 1971 has morphed into the greatest breach of trust in the black community since Reconstruction. Our precious black children are not on the minds of the Congressional Black Caucus, they care more about the rights of undocumented immigrants and football players who don’t stand for the National Anthem than they do about our families and precious children.”
Various group leaders made strong pleas to the black community to embrace this position with openness and to hear the total message citing, “We, meaning Black Americans, have been sidelined by traitors in Washington.”
Owens also mentioned that last year his media relations office contacted Congressman John Lewis, the Rev. Al Sharpton (who purports himself as a civil rights advocate for the voiceless), and Attorney General Jeff Session pertaining to the documented research conducted by Yale University researchers published in USA Today in 2016. The article detailed racial bias and poor treatment of preschool-age black children, with special emphasis on black boys. CAAP requested several meetings to initiate a national dialogue, but was met with resistance.
“Not one elected official or civil rights leader has responded to date or called for an inquiry. This is a shame. If our children are not protected at this tender age, what kind of future will exist for them when lawmakers don’t care enough to take up the just cause to fight and utilize the power of their office? My office sent copies of the Yale research to many and to this very day, no serving black politician in Washington, black news reporters (and we reached out to many) and sadly, even the black clergy, have responded. This is really tragic,” Owens said.
Unfortunately, this issue is very personal to Owens and his wife, Dr. Deborah Owens, whose then 4-year old son experienced racial discrimination in his preschool. The Owens’s, after documenting many instances which they cited were deeply troubling, immediately removed their son after school officials failed to correct the problems in a timely manner.
Owens said he thought his son’s troubles at his preschool were isolated until he discovered the article published in USA Today in 2016 written by Yale University Researchers citing this was a national problem. He also said it was alarming to read that black teachers were worse than whites.
To date, over 50 online groups have attached their support to this cause. Join the conversation and sign the CROSSROAD petition. Visit www.caapusa.org.
Top: Coalition of African American Pastors logo.
Inside: Members of the Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP) at a recent press conference.