Lawmakers in North Carolina Aim to Establish a Commission to Study Challenges Facing Black Males

Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., right, greets voter Jermaine Jackson as he arrives to cast his vote in Charlotte, N.C., on June 7, 2016. John D. Simmons The Charlotte Observer.
Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., right, greets voter Jermaine Jackson as he arrives to cast his vote in Charlotte, N.C., on June 7, 2016. John D. Simmons The Charlotte Observer.

U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Alma Adams want to create a commission to study the challenges facing black males, including a high rate of homicides and incarceration and other hardships.

North Carolina Democrats Butterfield and Adams and 37 other caucus members have endorsed legislation, known as the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act. The commission would investigate potential civil rights violations affecting black males and study the disparities they experience in education, criminal justice, health, employment, fatherhood, mentorship and violence. They would put their findings in an annual report that would include recommendations for how to improve conditions.

Commission members would include the caucus chairman as well as 18 unpaid representatives from the caucus, from federal agencies and others from outside government. Butterfield, of Wilson, N.C., and Adams, of Charlotte, say they’d like some prominent North Carolina leaders on the commission.

Urban League of Central Carolinas President Patrick Graham, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney, Charlotte City Councilman James “Smuggie” Mitchell and African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church Bishop George Battle are among the state leaders that Adams said she would recommend.

“These are all men – young men by the way – who have actually been role models in the community,” she said.

The study and report would exclude women. Although the difficulties black women face are important, they aren’t as pressing than those that impact black men. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida, who crafted the legislation, said in an Aug. 17 email to the Charlotte Observer.

“There are many programs to address development for women and girls but far fewer programs for boys,” Wilson said. “Minority males are disproportionally incarcerated and their representation in the nation’s prison population is at record numbers. Conversely, U.S. Department of Education statistics show that African-American women account for a greater percentage of college degree conferees than any other group by race and gender. In addition, black women earn two college degrees for every black male that earns a degree.”

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Source: Charlotte Observer | MAGGIE YBARRA