Congress: Nov. 30 Was a Bad Day for Black Women and Progressives

Congress: Nov. 30 Was a Bad Day for Black Women and Progressives


November 30th was not a good day for African American women in power and progressives as it pertains to Congress.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) lost her bid to become Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus by only two votes to Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA). Lee is known by colleagues as a very engaged hard working member of Congress.  She is widely respected for being the only member of the House to vote against the Iraq War and she continuously keeps the poverty issue on the agenda.

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) lost her bid to be elected Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus to Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA). Clarke was the Vice Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and is a member of the Small Business Committee and has been focused on telecom related issues.  Clarke has also worked against NYPD’s massive stop and frisk policy that targeted Blacks and Hispanics and been focused on the diversity visa issue that impacts Caribbean immigrants disproportionately.

There are no African American women in House leadership though Black women are the Democratic Party’s most reliable voting block over two presidential election cycles. Both Lee and Clarke are members of the Progressive Caucus in the House.

The stunning reality of Republicans controlling the White House, Senate and House for the next two years has ignited lots of discussions regarding the messaging and policy direction of the Democratic Party. Whether the inter-party losses of Reps. Lee and Clarke mean anything greater remains to be seen but it is interesting to see Democrats chose to empower members who have a more transactional style over true progressives in the wake of November 8.

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Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke is a writer, comms strategist and political analyst. She created Crewof42, a blog focused on African American members of Congress, in 2009. Ms. Burke also writes for NBC BLK, The Root, NNPA and is the Managing Editor of Politic365. As part of a diverse career in politics and media, she has served as a congressional staffer for the U.S. Senate Democratic Policy Committee, Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) and Director of Communications for Justin Fairfax for Lt. Governor of Virginia. From 2014 to 2017, Ms. Burke appeared each Monday on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin on TVOne. Ms. Burke holds a B.A. in History from The American University. She was born and raised in New York. Email: Twitter: @LVBurke. IG: @laurenvburke. Periscope: @LVBurke


  1. Barbara Lee is the old guard and we have gotten no where with her kind in charge. It is not enough that we have a woman or a Black woman seated at the table. We need ADVOCATES. I don’t want nobody to give me nothing. Open up the door, I’ll get it myself. Lee was content to keep us in hand me downs forever. We need to get our fight back. “