A number of new officers were name to the Texas Legislative Black Caucus leadership on this week. Chief among them was the election of State Rep. Helen Giddings, D-DeSoto, as chairperson.
“I am honored to have the confidence of my fellow African American legislators to lead the Texas Legislative Black Caucus during this critical time for our state,” said Giddings. “The talents and skills of every member of the TLBC will be utilized to develop an agenda that builds on past successes and confronts the challenges of today.”
Now serving her 11th term, Representative Helen Giddings serves the cities of House District 109: Dallas, DeSoto, Cedar Hill, Glenn Heights, Hutchins, Lancaster, Wilmer, as well as part of Duncanville.
Rep. Helen Giddings has a longstanding reputation as being an ardent education and business advocate; and recently lent her concerns over the recently overturned Texas Voter ID law. The statute was struck down by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday.
“Today is a great day for Texas voters and Texas families. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed that Texas’ Voter ID law places an unfair and unconstitutional barrier to our democracy,” Rep. Giddings said. “I am thrilled the court declared the right to vote shall not be infringed.”
The stringent Voter ID law passed in 2011 has proven to be an enormous barrier to democracy for Texas’ most vulnerable communities, including college students, the working poor, and the elderly. Some estimates have indicated that up to 700,000 otherwise eligible Texans have lost their right to vote since the law was passed.
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Acclaimed actress and thespian, Lynn Whitfield began her acting career in television and theatre, before progressing to supporting roles in film. She won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special and a NAACP Image Award for her performance as Josephine Baker in the HBO movie, The Josephine Baker Story. She also won NAACP Image Awards for her work in Touched by an Angel, The Planet of Junior Brown and Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story.
Some of her most revered and notable film roles include performances in, A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, Eve’s Bayou, The Cheetah Girls, Madea’s Family Reunion, and the Cheetah Girls 2.
She started her illustrious acting career at an early age appearing in the Black Repertory Company in Washington, DC as well as appearing in off-Broadway productions, ultimately receiving early acclaim for her performance in “for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf” co-starring Alfre Woodard.
The Texas Legislative Black Caucus is pleased to have Lynn Whitfield as the Keynote Speaker of the Community Awards Breakfast during the 2015 Summit, where she will also be honored as the recipient of the treasured, TLBC Excellence Award during the TLBC Scholarship Awards Banquet.
You won’t want to miss this!
AUSTIN (November 25, 2014) The Texas Legislative Black Caucus said Tuesday that a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer who shot an unarmed black teenager to death in Ferguson, Mo., “is the latest incident to sound the alarm about injustice in our criminal justice system.”
“This recurrent theme of injustice in our great land is the single largest impediment to true progress that we have and will continue to face, said Murry Matthews, the director of the caucus.
After hearing months of testimony and deliberating for two days, the grand jury decided Monday not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, 18.
The announcement of the decision Monday night triggered sometimes violent protests.
“The unjustified killing of African Americans by those whose mission is ‘to protect and serve’ must stop,” Matthews said.
“The eyes of the world are now fixed on our country, and what we will do as a nation to address the problems within our criminal justice system,” he said.
(This article is courtesy of KWTX news)
The accomplished Willie Brown is the former Mayor of San Francisco and Speaker of the California State Assembly. Mr. Brown served over 30 years in the California State Assembly including 15 years as Speaker. Following his service in the Assembly, Brown became the 41st Mayor of San Francisco. He is the first African American Mayor of San Francisco and Speaker of the Assembly of California. He also holds the honor as the longest serving Speaker of the California State Assembly. He was referred to as “one of San Francisco’s most notable mayors” by the San Francisco Chronicle and received the title of “The Best Dressed Man in San Francisco” by Esquire Magazine.
Willie Brown’s rise to prominence began in the small East Texas town of Mineola. He was born as the fourth of five children. With a desire to have the skills to reach his full potential, Brown felt his high school education was substandard and opted to leave Mineola for California following his graduation. Upon moving to San Francisco in 1951, he attended and graduated from San Francisco State University in 1955, despite having to catch up his first year due to subpar secondary schooling. After graduating from San Francisco State University, he then went on to graduate from the University of California, Hastings College of Law in 1958.
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State Representative Sylvester Turner (Houston) today urged qualified low-income Texans to enroll in LITE-UP Texas, a program authorized by the Texas Legislature through which participants can reduce the monthly cost of their electric service by 82%.
“I want to ensure that everyone who is eligible for this discount, particularly senior citizens, is aware of it and can receive it,” said Turner. “For example, a customer who receives a bill for $100.00 in May, June, July or August will only have to pay $18.00 based on the 82% discount. This is significant and could literally mean the difference between whether these families can put food on the tables during the hottest months of the year.
“Please call the PUC today to enroll so you can get your discount as soon as possible.”
The LITE-UP Texas program is designed to help qualified low-income individuals who live in areas where they can choose their own electricity provider to reduce their monthly cost of electric service. Customers qualify if they currently receive Texas Medicaid or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Customers can also self-enroll if their household income is at or below 125% of the federal poverty guideline, which equates to a family of four having an income of $29,000.
During the last legislative session, Rep. Turner led the effort to win approval from the 83rd Texas Legislature to make profound changes to the LITE-UP Texas program, increasing the discount from 10% to 82%. For example, a provider of last resort rate of 14 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) would be discounted by 11.48 cents per kWh. The discount will be effective May through August 2014 and will appear on customers’ bills for the month following their meter readings for those months. The program will permanently end on September 1, 2016.
Turner said that 85% of Texans who qualify for the program are enrolled automatically, but many qualified families are missed.
“It is important to get all eligible people enrolled into the program so that they can receive the benefits,” Turner said. “The legislature approved this increased discount because we understand how desperately our most vulnerable Texans need this help. I don’t want to see anyone who qualifies overlooked.”
Individuals not currently participating in the LITE-UP Texas program can obtain a self-enrollment application by contacting the PUC toll-free at 1-800-454-8387 or visiting the PUC’s website, http://www.puc.texas.gov/consumer/lowincome/assistance.aspx.
It is with a heavy heart that the Texas Legislative Black Caucus mourns the passing of one of the most iconic and transformative civil rights activists the world has ever seen, former South African President Nelson Mandela at the age of 95.
Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, fought tirelessly to ensure that we as a human race, both aspired to and brought about the reality of equality, in his native of South Africa and on a much larger scale, the world at large. As a man willing to sacrifice for his convictions; his humility, grace, steeled determination and vision never wavered, even as he endured more than 27 years of imprisonment solely for his ideals to make South Africa a truly free and open society for all.
His contributions so vast and comprehensive that they include the peaceful transition from an Apartheid South African government into a functioning, inclusive democratic government, which is the true hallmark of his genius.
Few others in history have ever made the impact on the world that he has. Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and Mandela all shared the mantle of true statesman & humanitarians in the pantheon of great leaders.
Fortunately enough, members of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus were able to visit South Africa recently to see up close, how Mandela has helped make the country a “Rainbow Nation”.
While we will cherish the memory and legacy that Mandela has left, let us never forget what Mandela taught us, which is that we can never rectify the injustices in our society without great sacrifice, persistence, and a tireless dedication to what is right & just.
Texas Legislative Black Caucus Commends NAACP, Mexican American Legislative Caucus and Civil Rights Groups Actions to Challenge Voter ID Law
(Austin, TX) – The Texas Legislative Black Caucus applauds today’s move by the NAACP State Branches of Texas and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) to join the Department of Justice, LULAC, Dallas County, the League of Women Voters, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and a concerned group of affected citizens across Texas in filing suit in the Southern District Court of Texas in Corpus Christi to block the State of Texas’ Voter ID law because of its discriminatory effects in violation of the Voting Rights Act and the 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
The move by the State Branches of the NAACP and MALC to join the assembled collection of high-profile stalwarts for civil rights, signifies that the battle is not over – but rather, the fight to ensure the ability for all in Texas to vote has intensified.
In the suit filed today in the Southern District of Texas’ Federal Court, the Texas NAACP and MALC joined the other plaintiffs including the Department of Justice and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, in arguing the Voter ID law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, because the law makes it harder for hundreds of thousands of minority citizens to vote, thus denying minority voters an equal opportunity to participate in the political process.
The Texas Legislative Black Caucus fought alongside MALC & the NAACP victoriously in the Washington, D.C. Federal Court in 2012, when the Voter ID law was struck down by the D.C. Court (under Section 5 preclearance) due to its discriminatory effect. The Court concluded the Voter ID law would lead to “retrogression in the position of racial minorities with respect to their effective exercise of the electoral franchise.” We look forward to our partners continuing the fight for justice and once again prevailing victoriously to guarantee the rights of all as cemented in the 14th & 15th Amendments as well as the Voting Rights Act.
Make sure to register now, so that you can join us for the Comedy Showcase hosted by J. Anthony Brown and the cast of four talented comedians on Monday, February 25th from 8:30p to 10:30p during the 2013 African American Legislative Summit.
J. Anthony Brown, famous for his trademark catchphrase “Watch Out Deh Now” hoas been honing comedic craft for over 40 years now. A winner of the prestigious Peabody Award, as well as the NAACP Image Award, J. Anthony Brown has been a writer for the Arsenio Hall Show, Steve Harvey’s Big Time, Me & the Boys, and the Parent ‘Hood, among others. In addition to the awards and TV writing credits you may have seen him as host during two seasons of BET’s Comic View, as well as performing on Def Comedy Jam, It’s Showtime at the Apollo, Evening at the Improv, Martin, Moesha, Livin’ Single, and even Oprah. On the big screen, his movie credits include XXX-State of the Union, Mr. 3000, Drumline & How to Be a Player.
Over the airwaves, you can catch J. Anthony Brown on the Tom Joyner Morning Show as he helps wake up millions of radio listeners in over 195 markets. In addition, you can catch him on the new hit TV One sitcom, “The Rickey Smiley Show”.
While his media pursuits place him second to none, J. Anthony Brown is also an innovative business man. From his own clothing line, “The J Anthony Brown Collection” to his comedy spot, “The J. Anthony Brown Comedy Store ” in Los Angeles; he is truly a man whose talent knows no bounds.
Last but not least, J. Anthony Brown is a man who gives back to the community. After losing both parents to complications from diabetes and then being diagnosed with the condition as well, he made it his crusade to help combat this widespread affliction in the African American community. With the founding of the J. Anthony Brown Foundation, he is doing his part to help educate and assist children aged 6 through 17 who are diagnosed with diabetes in his native South Carolina. Not only this, J. Anthony is keenly aware of when the community at large is in need of help. Following the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, he responded to the crisis by helping to rebuild the community. As recognition for his tireless efforts, he was awarded the prestigious Peabody Award in addition to a NAACP Image Award.
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The 2013 African American Legislative Summit is almost here! You won’t want to miss next year’s event. The African American Legislative Summit, which is sponsored by HEB, will take place from Sunday evening, Feb. 24th through Tuesday afternoon, February 26th. The theme of the upcoming Conference is “the building of our Community starts with me”. With an expected 4,000 attendees, the 2013 Summit is slated to be better than ever.
We are proud to announce that the keynote speaker at the Scholarship Awards Banquet on Monday, February 25th will be none other than the young, bright, innovative and accomplished Mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed.
2013 African American Legislative Summit Details
The Conference will kick off on Sunday evening, February 24th with the Black-tie invitation only, Chairman’s Dinner at the Hilton Hotel Downtown in Austin. On Monday morning, the Conference will begin in earnest in the House Chamber at the State Capitol. Following the opening plenary session, we will have a series of riveting panel discussions in the Capitol, then a luncheon on the Capitol Grounds. After the lunch, the Conference will shift to our host site, the beautiful Hilton Hotel in Downtown Austin where we will have dignitaries and noted celebrities to bring you even more stimulating panels and discussions. Later that evening, the TLBC Scholarship Awards Banquet will commence in the Hilton Hotel Ballroom, where we will honor the 2013 TLBC Scholarship Recipients. On Tuesday morning, the well-received Community Awards Banquet takes place at the Hilton Hotel and then the Conference wraps up with our final series of panels at the Hotel. With the roster of noted personalities and events planned, this Summit will be one to remember!
Chairman’s Award Dinner honoring Milton Carroll
The Chairman’s Award Dinner honoring Milton Carroll, underwritten by Blue Cross Blue Shield & CenterPoint Energy, will take place at 7p on Sunday, February 24th at the picturesque Bob Bullock State History Museum a mere 3 blocks away from the State Capitol. This invitation-only black-tie affair, will honor the multitude of achievements of Mr. Milton Carroll. An innovator in the Oil & Gas industry, Mr. Carroll also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors at CenterPoint Energy, Inc. & Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. A native Texan, the accomplishments of Mr. Carroll’s stellar business career are second to none. He is well deserving of this token of appreciation by the Texas Legislative Black Caucus for his inspirational achievements as an African American business man, who has excelled in a variety of endeavors in the business world. The Texas Legislative Black Caucus proudly salutes a fellow trailblazer at the inaugural Chairman’s Award Dinner.
Host Site- Hilton Hotel Info & Reservations
For your convenience, a very special room rate of $199/night is available for Sunday, February 24th and Monday, February 25th for a limited time only at the Hilton Hotel (a savings of $130), so please take advantage now. Room reservations at the Hilton Hotel Downtown for Sunday, February 24th and/or Monday, Feb. 25th are available now online at: https://resweb.passkey.com/go/TexasLegislativeBlackCaucus. If you are interested in a multi-night stay at the Hilton Hotel, please call 800.445.8667 (make sure to mention Group Code: TLB) and they can handle your reservation.
Stay tuned for more updates and we look forward to seeing you there!
For questions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
By State Rep. Sylvester Turner
Courtesy of Houston Chronicle
May 9, 2012
Two female students were captured recently on cellphone video fighting in the stairwell of a Fort Bend ISD high school in front of dozens of students who had shown up ahead of time to watch. Just a few hours before, the mother of one of these girls told an assistant principal that her daughter would be beaten. The principal said he would take care of the threat, but did not. One girl put a lock in a sock and beat the other girl, as she had threatened to do, sending her to the hospital for treatment.
From what I observed on the video, no one intervened – not a teacher, not an administrator and not one of the many students who showed up for this entertainment. While this horrific video has captured the community’s and the media’s attention, it is just the latest in a series of violence, bullying and intimidation affecting our children at their schools.
In January of this year, a student fight in the cafeteria at Andy Dekaney High School in Spring ISD escalated into a melee involving dozens of students. Also in January, a North Forest High School student brought a gun onto campus and shot and wounded another student.
Last year, a 6-year-old brought a loaded gun to his class at Ross Elementary. He and two other students were injured when the gun fell out of his pocket and discharged. Just a few days ago, a 14-year-old student was shot by a Pasadena ISD officer when he confronted the student in an apparent burglary.
Two dozen Houston ISD school bus drivers recently called for more discipline of rowdy students. The drivers say the students carry weapons, fight each other and even attack the drivers themselves. This past week a South Houston High School student was accused of filming another student in the bathroom. He planned to post the video on Facebook.
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The Texas Legislative Black Caucus is pleased to thank all those in attendance at the recently held African American Legislative Summit, helping the event to become a wonderful success. This year’s Summit held in Austin from Feb. 27th through March 1st, under the direction of Chairman Sylvester Turner had a record 3,000 plus attendees from all over Texas. A great time was had by all in attendance as numerous elected officials, scores of grassroots activists, business professionals, college students, reknowned academics and citizens alike came together for an eventful time of collaboration, networking and an opportunity to exchange ideas. The Summit was highlighted by Ms. Debra Lee, CEO of B.E.T. as the keynote speaker at the Scholarship Banquet where over $120,000 in scholarships were awarded. An overwhelming attendance of successful recipients, all of whom were high school seniors, made the night a special occasion as Debra Lee punctuated the night with her remarks which thrilled all those in attendance.
Those who arrived early on Sunday evening were treated to a musical performance by none other than DJ Biz Markie. The Summit started in earnest early Monday morning at 9am in the House Chamber, as the Summit provided a unique opportunity for attendees to sit at House members desks and hear from TLBC members. Following the opening session, a series of riveting panel discussions in the Capitol on Monday morning rounded out the early morning events. Those there for the panels were treated to a packed house as people listened with picqued interest as a host of topics were covered. Next we followed with a barbeque luncheon on the Capitol Grounds as all those in attendance were treated to a great meal under tents as they all enjoyed the beautiful weather. As the afternoon began, the Summit shifted to the host site, the Sheraton Hotel at the Capitol as we enjoyed more powerful panel discussions. As evening fell, people excitedly awaited the Scholarship Banquet as many gathered for a cocktail reception before the formal events ensued.
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Black Community Leaders Troubled By School Incidents
May 3, 2012
Courtesy of KUHF- Houston Public Radio
In the wake of all the protests over the Trayvon Martin shooting some people have criticized black community leaders and politicians for taking a stand in the Florida case while ignoring issues of violence and unlawful behavior that take place their communities everyday. But with the just released video of a fight at Thurgood Marshall High school in Fort Bend county, some leaders here in Houston say enough is enough and are calling for change at home.
State Representative Sylvester Turner stood before a microphone with at least twenty other politicians, school church and community leaders behind him. He read a long list of disturbing events that have happened locally dating back to last year.
“Twenty five HISD school bus drivers recently called for more discipline of rowdy students. The drivers say the students carry weapons, fight each other and even attack the drivers themselves. This week a south Houston high school student was accused of filming another in the bathroom. He planned to post it on Facebook. And so it’s one incident on and on and on.”
It was Turner who brought these leaders together after seeing the recent fight at Thurgood Marshall High School that was taped by another student. Turner says enough is enough.
“Bringing weapons to school, engaging in disruptive behavior on school buses, bullying and fighting on school campuses, breaking into homes, or cars are not acceptable in our communities.”
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The Texas Department of Transportation – Office of Civil Rights’ DBE/HUB/SBE Program will be conducting several meetings around the state to provide information regarding proposed changes to the DBE/HUB/SBE Rules that will have an impact on the administration of TxDOT’s DBE, SBE, and HUB Programs. TxDOT invites your participation in these meetings to share your position and solicit your input on proposed new rules and how they may impact your opportunities to do business with the department.
The information meetings will be held on the following days and locations to include a DBE/HUB/SBE Rule webinar on April 11, 2012. If interested in the webinar, please registerby April 10, 2012 e-mailing your request to: OCR_OutreachInfo@txdot.gov
SUBJECT LINE: DBE/HUB/SBE Rules Webinar and an e-mail confirmation will be e-mailed back to you to include the webinar call in details.
The dates and locations for the information sessions to be held around the state are:
4/18/12- 2-4 pm Pharr District (District Conference Center Rm 1 &2) – 600 W. Expressway 83, Pharr, TX 78577
4/23/12- 2-4 pm El Paso District ( HQ District Conference Center) – 13301 Gateway West, El Paso, TX 79928-5410
4/26/12- 9-11 am Dallas District (Dallas Room) – 4777 East Highway 80, Mesquite, TX 75150-6643
4/25/12- 2-4 pm Houston District (Auditorium Rm 143)- 7600 Washington Avenue, Houston, TX 77251
In compliance with ADA requirements, participants with special needs can be reasonably accommodated by contacting Christina Calvo by phone at (512) 486-5501, at least five working days prior to the event.
For more information about the meetings, please call (512) 486-5501.
AUSTIN, Texas — In connection with the African and African Diaspora Studies Department, The University of Texas at Austin has appointed King Davis founding director of the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis.
Davis, professor and Robert Lee Sutherland Chair in Mental Health and Social Policy in the School of Social Work and former executive director of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, served as interim director of the institute in 2010 and 2011, and will begin his new role effective immediately. Davis joined The University of Texas at Austin in 2000 after serving as commissioner of the Virginia Department of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse and as a faculty member at Virginia Commonwealth University.
“The investment by The University of Texas in this new institute reflects the personal commitment of President Powers and his administration,” Davis said. “I am delighted to have the opportunity to help shape the mission and vision of the institute and its initial research projects.” The institute’s initial focus will be on the state of Texas.
“Despite our iconic rural image, more than 80 percent of Texans live in cities. Texas needs better urban policy, and we can’t improve that without good data on the populations that make up our cities, especially populations of color,” said President Bill Powers. “King Davis is the perfect leader for this important new effort. His academic and professional background — and the enormous respect he commands from his colleagues — bodes well for the institute’s future.”
Developed in 2010 through collaborative efforts of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, the African and African Diaspora Studies Department and the College of Liberal Arts, the institute’s mission is to conduct and promote the production of policy-relevant research with the aim of enhancing the lives of African-Americans and other communities of color.
“I applaud the selection of Dr. Davis to lead this vitally important institute,” said Rep. Sylvester Turner, chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus. “His expertise and dedication will bring the institute to the forefront of positive change in the African American community in Texas.”
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Chairman Sylvester Turner
& Members of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus invite you to participate…
November 7, 2011 Grey Rock Golf Club in Austin
11:30 a.m. Registration
1 p.m. Shotgun Start
6:00 p.m. Awards Dinner
Sponsorship Levels: Diamond $20,000 Sapphire $15,000 Platinum $10,000 Gold $5,000 Silver $3,000 Bronze $1,500 Single $500* *Not a corporate sponsorship level.
Additional sponsorship opportunities: Bars, beverages, hole signs and title banner; shirts, hats, goody bags, boxed lunches, bev carts, contests and prizes.
Call Christine Garrison at (512) 292-3000 or email email@example.com . TLBC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Corporate contributions are permitted by State law.
Not distributed at State expense.
As the 82nd Legislature and Special Session draws to a close, Chairman Turner, Chairwoman Senfronia Thompson, and Rep. Helen Giddings were joined by concerned parents, teachers, and fellow Texas Legislators as they issued a Report Card for the 82nd Session. The special emphasis of the Report Card was on an issue near and dear to everyone’s heart and conscience, an issue whose importance is both long lasting and the true barometer of how we has a society view our future generations – Public Education. This Legislative Session has seen historic cuts and changes to the Public Education system in Texas which will harm our school children for years to come, and the time is here for those who made such shortsighted decisions face accountability.
State Representative Joe Deshotel of Port Arthur, who currently serves as Chair of the House Business and Industry Committee and is also a TLBC member, has sent a request to President Obama seeking a federal disaster declaration in response to the persistent wildfires in Texas.
Since the fire season began in Texas, local and state responders, including many volunteers, have battled more than 10,500 fires, which have burned more than 2.7 million acres and destroyed more than 400 homes. Over the past three years, farmers, ranchers and residents across Texas have been heavily impacted by wildfires. The most recent bout of fires, which have been occurring since December 21, 2010, are consideredby many to be the worst in Texas history.
Please find the formal request to President Obama here.
For more information, please contact the office of State Representative Joe Deshotel at 512.463.0662.
The maps presented to the Texas House and Senate pose serious concern for minority communities in Texas for the next 10 years. As each decade’s U.S. Census count requires a redrawing of both House & Senate state maps, Texas is currently undergoing the effort which will make legislative districts more reflective of their population growth over the past 10 years.
With the high degree of minority population growth recently in Texas, minority communities deserve more elected official representation.
When debate commenced on the House floor recently for consideration on the Texas House of Representatives map, the Black Caucus presented alternative plans which amplified the voice of African Americans statewide as well as the Hispanic community. The TLBC maps were reflective of the necessary hard work and attention to the needs of minority communities which is required since any Texas maps must be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice due to historical discrimination in our State. The TLBC believes the map passed by the Texas House is a significant step backwards for minorities in this State, and which is why the TLBC map provides a much better alternative which does not dilute African American communities and also keeps together communities of interest.
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