The Texas Legislative Black Caucus was formed in 1973 and consisted of eight members. These founding members were: Anthony Hall, Mickey Leland, Senfronia Thompson, Craig Washington, Sam Hudson, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Paul Ragsdale, and G. J. Sutton. The Texas Legislative Black Caucus is composed of 17 members of the Texas House of Representatives committed to addressing the issues African Americans face across the state of Texas. Rep. Sylvester Turner is Chairman of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus for the 84th Session. State Senators Rodney Ellis and Royce West, the two members who comprise the Senate Legislative Black Caucus, are included in every Caucus initiative as well.
Our Texas Legislative Black Caucus Research & Education Foundation is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation created by members of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus to offer primarily two programs: The biennial conference and our high school scholarship program. Fundraising is conducted year-round to support these two initiatives.
Biennial Conference- African American Legislative Summit
From March 1-3, 2015 the Texas Legislative Black Caucus hosted its biennial African American Legislative Summit at the new JW Marriott Hotel in Downtown Austin. Themed The Bridge to Tomorrow the Summit examined important issues in the African American community including health disparities among African American men, graduation rates in the Black community, leadership issues, interactions with law enforcement, higher education achievement in the Black community, Black business opportunities with electricity and cable companies, Alzheimer’s care and a discussion on school choice among many others. Over 3,500 leaders, students and people of note attended the 3 day event, with free food and thrilling entertainment for all. In addition, notable speakers and performers thrilled attendees and over 60 scholarships totaling $120,000 were awarded to deserving high school students from across Texas at the scholarship banquet and galas. The event was a huge success!
From February 24-26, 2013, the TLBC hosted again hosted the highly successful Summit themed “From Texas to Africa & Back,” the Summit examined the critical issues that impact the African American community, especially in a state as diverse as Texas.
In addition, the 2013 African American Legislative Summit displayed and highlighted the bonds of commonality between Texas and our fellow elected official counterparts from Africa. Informative panel discussions addressed a wide range of critical issues including the access and quality of public education, entrepreneurship, human rights, and leadership.
Stay tuned for the 2017 African American Legislative Summit which will surely be better than ever! You won’t want to miss it and your support of this endeavor is greatly appreciated.
Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis at UT-Austin
Chairman Turner spearheaded an effort with the University of Texas at Austin to establish the Institute for Urban Policy, Research & Analysis and Black Studies Department, which both launched in 2010. The Institute works closely with the Texas Legislature to address and study issues affecting the African-American community and rapidly growing urban population in the state. Dr. Kevin Coakley is the Director of the Institute and we expect many great things to come from this unique, groundbreaking institution in the future.
African American Higher Ed Initiative
Under the leadership of Senator Royce West, the Caucus is working with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and others to increase and retain the number of African-American students in colleges and universities in the state.
Every biennium, the TLBC Research & Education Fund awards over 60 scholarships ranging in values from $1,500 to $4,000 to qualified high school students from across the state. Students are awarded at the Scholarship Banquet during the Summit. As of the Fall 2015, the Texas Legislative Black Caucus will have awarded some $360,000 to over 180 deserving high school students in Texas to help them reach their dreams and goals and ultimately become the future leaders of tomorrow.
US State Department- International Visitors Leadership Program
During the Summer of 2012, the TLBC co-hosted a riveting panel discussion with participants from over 15 countries in conjunction with a visit to Austin by a delegation of foreign leaders as part of the International Visitors Leadership Program. Members of the TLBC had an insightful exchange with members of the delegation during a discussion of Civil Rights here in Texas. Members of the delegation and also those participating members of the TLBC left the discussion with a broadened perspective of the world around them.
Texas Black Expo 2012 Partnership
The Texas Legislative Black Caucus was an official partner with The Texas Black Expo, Inc. The event which took place on June 15th included informative panel discussions that brought together small businesses, various State Agencies & investment banking firms for an exchange of ideas and opportunities that will surely provide lasting benefits into the future. In addition, we co-hosted both a breakfast and a luncheon at the event, in order to raise awareness and outreach for the Texas Black Expo. As a direct result of our partnership, the Texas Black Expo was able to provide free health screenings to more than 1,000 people. The event also exposed scores of students to higher education opportunities at the HBCU College Fair.
Texas Redistricting Trial
The Texas Legislative Black Caucus successfully advocated for African-American communities of interest across Texas to ensure that those affected by the changes to representation on the State & Federal level still maintained a voice in the crucially important redistricting trial, which reached the US Supreme Court as well as in Federal District Courts in Texas and Washington, D.C.
Voter I.D. Trial
The Texas Legislative Black Caucus intervened in the Voter ID trial in the Washington, D.C. District Court, as issues and challenges arose directly challenging the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act, the TLBC found it vital to stand up in this fight, to provide a voice for the powerless.
U.S. Census 2010 Partnership
The Texas Legislative Black Caucus is an official partner of the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau to reach minority and hard-to-count populations. As a part of this initiative, Caucus members promoted a variety of outreach events to educate their respective districts. Events included Census Sunday, which encouraged pastors and religious leaders to speak to their congregation about participation in the Census, and Community Leadership Meetings to empower other local leaders to spread the word about the Census.
Paul Quinn College
In July 2009, the TLBC began working with Paul Quinn College in Dallas, the state’s oldest historically black college, in efforts to ensure the college would stay open after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) preliminarily removed its accreditation. Working with various stakeholders and helping to raise over $1 million for the college, the TLBC helped to ensure the school remained financially stable and viable. In August, Paul Quinn College’s accreditation was restored and in October the Caucus held a reception to welcome students to the new academic year on campus.
E.O. Smith Middle School
In June 2009, TLBC members teamed up with community leaders and parents to ensure the historical middle school in Houston’s Fifth Ward would stay open to serve the community after a decision by the Houston ISD Board to close to the school due to low enrollment. A month later, the Board overturned the decision to close the school, working with the community and parents on a plan to increase enrollment and on long-term educational quality improvement goals.
Minority Business Forum & Workshops
In September 2009, the Caucus hosted a forum in Houston for historically underutilized businesses to discuss their experiences applying for contracts with the state. Prompted by concerns raised by a number of constituents, the forum began a dialogue between community leaders, businesses, and state agencies to ensure minority businesses receive full and equal access to state contracting opportunities. In October 2009, the Caucus hosted a workshop with the Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs to inform businesses currently contracting with the department on best practices to increase minority business subcontracting opportunities.