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PLBC Chairwoman Donna Bullock Remarks on Somber Anniversary

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PLBC calls for reforms for adult use cannabis in Pennsylvania

(Jul 09, 2024)

HARRISBURG, July 9 – The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus today laid out a plan for reforming Pennsylvania’s adult use cannabis laws, with a focus on criminal justice reform and social equity. “It is time that we invest in the restoration of communities that have been impacted, we return incarcerated persons to their families, and we provide entrepreneurs with a pathway to lead in this emerging marketplace,” said PLBC chair, state Rep. Napoleon Nelson. The PLBC is advocating for expungement of prior cannabis offenses and the reimbursement of assets forfeited during cannabis-related arrests to be included in any legislation that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. “So many stakeholders and lawmakers in other states have already affirmed these moral imperatives and we are convinced that Pennsylvania will do the same,” Nelson said. “We’re in a commonwealth that has a number of dispensaries, none of which I believe are owned by Black folk — zero — unacceptable,” said state Rep. Chris Rabb, co-founder of the PA Cannabis Caucus. “The origins of the racist war on drugs and cannabis prohibition have been directly and insidiously connected to Black folk and to any number of people who have been marginalized over generations.” “To do so while thousands of Pennsylvanians have their lives, Read more

Smith-Wade-El, PA House members & community leaders rally for fair housing legislation, housing budget proposals

(Jun 12, 2024)

HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster, hosted a rally today with other legislators, legal experts and community advocates from across the state in support of fair housing in Pennsylvania. “The lack of affordable housing in Pennsylvania has resulted in evictions and homelessness for many Pennsylvanians,” Smith-Wade-El said. “Every person has the right to a roof over their head. Our rally today called out the continuing inequities in housing in our commonwealth and the legislative and budget initiatives devised to address them. “As Democrats in the PA House, we’re fighting for a person-centered approach to fair housing, from helping the unhoused get back into a safe home, to my bill that would seal no-fault eviction records so people can find housing, to increased support for the Whole Home Repairs program so seniors can fix and stay in their homes,” Smith-Wade-El said. “We understand that having a home to call one’s own is a human right, a matter of justice. I and my colleagues will fight to make sure that every Pennsylvanian can enjoy their fundamental right to a safe and secure place in which to live.” The rally focused on the PA House budget proposal (H.B. 2324), which would increase funding for fair housing initiatives; the need for increased funding for the homelessness assistance program; a House-led proposal to increase PHARE funding to $100 million dollars; the LLC Read more

Mayes, McClinton join advocates to rally for passage of PA CROWN Act

(Jun 04, 2024)

Call for state Senate to act on legislation to fight hair discrimination Read more

Testifiers detail need to develop diversity in education workforce

(May 23, 2024)

“Teachers enable a pathway to a greater future for all our young people,” said hearing host state Rep. Regina Young, who represents portions of Philadelphia. “It was great to hear from the panelists supporting the need for more Black teachers and supporting people of color to become teachers, but it was inspiring to see so many young people in the room who could become the teachers for the next generation. Speaking from my own experience, it’s necessary for students to make that connection with the teachers and mentors who see more in you than you see in yourself.” Read more

Philadelphia House Delegation reacts to passing of former Rep. James Roebuck

(May 16, 2024)

Chairwoman of the Philadelphia House Delegation Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., released the following statement on behalf of the delegation on the passing of former state Rep. James Roebuck, who represented the 188th Legislative District in West Philadelphia from 1985-2020. Read more

Roebuck’s death mourned by members of Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus

(May 16, 2024)

HARRISBURG, May 16 – Members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus released the following statements regarding the passing of former PLBC Chair James R. Roebuck: Said PLBC Chair Napoleon Nelson (D-Montgomery): “James R. Roebuck was a true statesman, a lawmaker who was a tireless advocate for his West Philadelphia neighbors and for every resident of this Commonwealth. “His legacy, particularly as a champion of our education system and the young people that he poured his soul into, will undoubtedly leave its mark on our society for generations. His long-lasting tenure as the Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee perfectly embodied our caucus’s approach to lifelong learning. It is heartening to see his life being celebrated by colleagues and community leaders throughout Pennsylvania. In 2021, the PA Legislative Black Caucus renamed our student scholarship in his honor. Nearly two dozen high school students from Black and brown communities from across the state will be awarded an investment in their continued academic pursuits in the coming week, a fitting testament to the inspiring work of Chairman Roebuck. “His impact as a pioneer, mentor and friend within the PA Legislative Black Caucus will undoubtedly be remembered and cherished. We have lost a true thought leader, a shining example of servant leadership that current and future members will surely aspire to. Our Read more

House Education Committee hearing focuses on financial support, resources for historically black colleges and universities

(May 03, 2024)

HARRISBURG, May 2 – The Pennsylvania House Education Committee and Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus teamed up for a joint hearing Thursday afternoon to discuss financial support and initiatives for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. State Rep. Peter Schweyer (D-Lehigh), Majority Chairman of the House Education Committee, co-hosted the hearing with state Rep. Napoleon Nelson (D-Montgomery), Chairman of the PLBC at the John Miller Dickey Hall at Lincoln University. The hearing featured more than a dozen testifiers across three panels, who discussed the impacts and necessity for state funding to support the students attending HBCUs. “Investments in higher education can literally be life-changing for many students and that is especially true for those in low-income communities,” said Schweyer. “Lincoln and Cheyney Universities not only provide safe learning environments and paths to success for students, but they are also part of Pennsylvania’s and the country’s history and we need to ensure they continue their mission for generations of students to come.” The hearing also featured testimony from Dr. Brenda A. Allen, President of Lincoln University, Aaron Walton, President of Cheyney University, as well as faculty members and students from both institutions to provide testimony on how these schools have been and continue to prepare students to learn, liberate and lead. “As the nation’s Read more

Kenyatta bill to convey New Freedom Theatre back to organization clears PA House

(Apr 09, 2024)

HARRISBURG, April 9 – After more than 30 years under state conservatorship the New Freedom Theatre is a step closer to being returned to the care of its parent organization thanks to legislation authored by state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., and passed by the PA House today. Kenyatta’s bill ( H.B. 1518 ) would authorize the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to grant and convey the tract of land that contains the iconic New Freedom Theatre in North Philadelphia to New Freedom Theatre Inc. for $1. According to Kenyatta, the theater that started in a North Philadelphia storefront with the support of the Black People’s Unity Movement in the mid-1960s has worked to chronicle African American History in the performing arts with playwrights and artists including Erika Alexander, James Baldwin, Denzel Washington, August Wilson, Sonia Sanchez, Grover Washington, Jr. and Glynn Turman. It also has provided professional theatrical training to tens of thousands of students over the years. “The New Freedom Theatre is a cultural treasure in the 181st District and the city of Philadelphia. Its deep history and future potential give us hope,” Kenyatta said. “As the theater continues to stand strong in its status as a bastion of Black culture in Philadelphia, its site has preservation needs that come with any structure built in the 1800s. The organization is working to preserve the site’s history so Read more

PLBC proposes legislation to help with fair housing

(Apr 09, 2024)

HARRISBURG, April 9 – Members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus spoke at a news conference today regarding legislation that would create a fairer housing market. April serves as National Fair Housing Month, bringing awareness and advocating policy for individuals that have been discriminated against and wrongfully evicted, and educating residents on their housing rights and the resources available to them. House Bill 96 , introduced by state Rep. Donna Bullock, would prohibit landlords from inquiring or requiring disclosure about certain arrest records of potential tenants as a condition of a lease. “In Pennsylvania, a person can be denied a rental property based off a conviction or even just an arrest — it doesn’t matter if it was years ago or even decades ago. Many times, individuals who are denied a lease were never convicted, completed a deferred judgement or have long since turned their life around. And when landlords use this tactic, it’s overwhelmingly used to be discriminatory toward Black and brown Pennsylvanians,” Bullock said. “We must pass legislation that prohibits landlords from inquiring or requiring disclosure of certain arrest records — such as juvenile records, arrests with no conviction, convictions older than seven years and convictions that aren’t felonies or misdemeanors — as a condition of a lease. Housing Read more

Mayes honored with PLBC’s Crystal Bird Fauset Award

(Apr 04, 2024)

“As the first Black woman to represent the 24th Legislative District, I aspire to continue the legacy of former state Representative Fauset and I am especially honored to be recognized by my peers for my leadership in the Pennsylvania Black Maternal Health Caucus,” Mayes said. “While Representative Fauset served in the House, she advocated for Black Pennsylvanians, especially to make housing more affordable for Black communities in Philadelphia, health care more accessible, and women’s rights in labor." Read more