The new chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus rallies the other 41 members with a call to fight the caucus’s traditional battles in an antagonistic House of Represntatives.

Congresman Emanuel Cleaver of Kansas City,  the 22nd chairman of the  caucus, says he’s tired of hearing people ask whether the caucus is still relevant in the “post-racial America” some proclaimed after the election of the nation’s first black President. He says there’s no question that the caucus remains relevant in a time when protective walls aound millions of needy Americans have been knocked down. 

All 42 caucus mmbers are Representatives, working in a chamber that Cleaver says has become venomous and bitter with unresolved squabbles over a large number of issues. “Congress at its worst demands a Congressional Black Caucus at its best,” he says.

Cleaver sasy the caucus will always be relevant as long as the walls of protection for the unemployed, the poor, and others are down and as long as any of the 60 recommendations the caucus gave President Nixon in 19-71 remains incomplete.

“Let the word go forth that the CBC did not come to Congress to make enemies; we cam to make a difference.  Our enemies are ignorance, bigotry, unemployment, needless war, and failure,” he said.

 Listen to Cleaver’s Black Caucus speech 23:28 mp3