Bipartisan legislation creating the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys was signed into law by President Donald Trump on August 14.

The commission will look at “the social disparities that disproportionately affect black males in America,” said Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson in a press release. She authored the bill, H.R. 1636, which was passed by the House of Representatives on July 27, one month after an identical bill, S. 2163, was passed in the Senate.

Senator Marco Rubio was the author of S. 2163. The text of the bills can be viewed at www.congress.gov.

Broad, Bipartisan Support

Support for the measure in the US Congress was broad and bipartisan. As Congresswoman Wilson, a Democrat, noted in her press release, the measure passed unanimously in the Republican-controlled Senate and "overwhelmingly" in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.

Senator Kamala Harris, who is now the vice-presidential candidate of the Democratic Party, had spoken in favor of creating the commission, Wilson recalled. In her press release, Wilson quoted Harris as saying America had never "fully" confronted "the systemic racism... in our country - particularly toward black men and boys.”

Wilson also said her measure had been co-sponsored by Congresswoman Lucy McBath, an African American, whose son was fatally shot while sitting in the back seat of a car with a friend at a gas station about eight years ago.

Obstacles to Upward Mobility of Black Males

The goal of the commission was to “interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline” and to improve the public’s understanding of those things which make it “extraordinarily difficult for black males to become upwardly mobile,” the congresswoman said. According to the press release issued by Rubio’s office, the commission will prepare an annual report which will be made available on a website provided by the federal government.

The press release also said that the legislation creating the commission did not provide it with any funds. The 19 members of the commission would not be compensated and the commission would be part of the United States Commission on Civil Rights’ Office, the senator’s office said.

Borrowing an Idea from Florida

The authors of the legislation creating the commission are both from the state of Florida. In their press releases, Wilson and Rubio pointed out that they had been legislators in Florida when that state created the Florida Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys (www.cssbmb.com) in 2006. Rubio recalled that he was the speaker of the Florida House at the time and appointed members to the council.

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