WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – Several Black members of Congress are poised to take control of a handful of important leadership positions, concentrating unprecedented power in the hands of Blacks. The areas of oversight and legislative authority will include everything from the criminal justice system to the stock exchange. Will their elevation into leadership positions make a difference in the lives of ordinary citizens?

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), will most certainly become the chair of the House Judiciary Committee; Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) will be the new chair of the Ways and Means Committee, which writes all the nation’s tax laws and regulates economic policy; Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) will be the new chair of the Homeland Security Committee, most observers agree.


In addition, Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.) is the leading contender to be named the new chair of the House Administration Committee; and there is a chance that Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fl.) will become the new chair of the Intelligence Committee. Several other members of the CBC will become chairs of House sub-committees.

These developments will be “earth-shaking,” Representative James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told The Final Call. He has been elected Majority Whip, the third ranking position in the House, after the Speaker and Majority Leader. The 110th Congress convenes in January.

“I think that is what we were fighting for during my student days at South Carolina State almost 50 years ago,” Mr. Clyburn continued.

What happened this year was “very big,” he said. The Blacks slated for the new leadership positions “are going to be making policy that we only dreamed of African Americans doing before.”

Some political observers agree. “It would truly be the realization of the kind of dream we’ve been waiting for since the Civil Rights Movement,” Dr. Ronald Walters, professor of Political Science at the University of Maryland, said in an interview.

“It’s their job to make certain that our needs are integrated into that package (in the national interest),” which is the committee’s jurisdiction, explained Dr. Sherman Miller, a college mathematics instructor, and the Republican nominee for Lt. Gov. of Delaware in 1996.

Black committee chairs must “not allow packages to get through that don’t have our interests in them,” he added.

When Whites are in charge, Black interests are too often classified as “special interests.”

There is also cause for concern. “This is a very dangerous time in American history,” observed Tony Regusters, a media advisor for several newly elected Democratic House members. “We don’t have to worry about things that people are going to do; they’ve already done so much. We still haven’t seen the effect and the impact of that. So, it’s those kinds of things we have to be on guard for,” he told The Final Call.

“We can’t get caught up in the euphoria of having these Black leaders move into these areas of power. We, as a people, have to step up, support them and support ourselves,” he continued.

“We have really been left out in the margins of the last 12 years of Republican rule, and now we’re at this new threshold. We’ve got a lot of reparations to do. Not only here in this country, and not only in terms of what the African American concern is, but around the world. We’ve got to have a more equitable,” relationship with other nations of the world, he said.

Blacks and other non-Whites in America are social weathervanes of how people are getting along in America, Mr. Regusters added. “It seems like (anything good or bad) hits us a year or two before it hits everybody else. That should be some kind of hint to the rest of America. It they see Black people suffering, or other people of color suffering, it’s gonna be heading your way. It’s gonna be coming your way.”

Sensitive Black leadership can reflect that reality of life in America and help shape policies that relieve the suffering of people stuck on the bottom, and observers expect the Democrats to deliver this time, he opined.

Mr. Rangel, the likely chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, called his post the “most important and most powerful” committee, because it oversees taxes and monetary policy.

“I’m excited to participate in a kinder and gentler Congress,” Mr. Rangel told The Washington Post. Congress under Republican leadership “was a heavy blow … to me personally,” he added. “It was a nightmare.”

The Democrats may be able to bring about a new day, Mr. Miller acknowledged. “If you’ve got to be a Black Republican, you’re supposed to get up and debase your Black community. I want to correct that. There are some of us–I happen to be a Black Republican–who are very much interested in education, health, welfare, good stuff for our children. I don’t see them as issues of Democrats or Republicans. To me, these are people issues,” said Mr. Miller.

“This leadership has a tremendous opportunity to lead us into the 21st Century,” concluded Mr. Regusters. “They need to demonstrate that the African American community has come into a new maturity. We, as a people, have been through everything that you can conceivably think of, in terms of the worst that this country could do to a people. We’ve been marginalized, homogenized and more. And now, we have an opportunity to really demonstrate the maturity and the wisdom of our senior leadership.”