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The Congressional Black Caucus has been in existence since 1971 (see Origins of the Congressional Black Caucus in the CBC department). They represent the first and only organized group in congress that, while of course representing all people in their districts, gives priority to the needs of Black Americans. As individual congressional members they agree on most matters, but there are many times when they do not. Thus, the CBC cannot be described as monolithic.

Over the years the CBC has risen in stature and they are recognized as a potent legislative force. All of the current members belong to the democratic party, although all Black congressional members can join.

In the late 1990s Gary Franks, former congressman from Connecticut joined the CBC. It became apparent rather early that he had fundamental differences with the CBC when he was the only member to vote against the bill that appropriated funds for the organization. Soon afterwards, Mr. Franks lost a reelection bid for his congressional seat. The only other current Black member of Congress, Republican J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, has declined membership in the CBC.

Given the chasm between what many Black people perceive as issues important to them and the positions of many republicans and the Republican party, it remains to be seen if the CBC will again have Black republican members.