Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Swearing In Ceremony
Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11) was sworn in recently as the 23rd Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) during a ceremony hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF). Five new members of the CBC were also sworn in by the CBCF; Marc Veasey (TX-33), Hakeem Jefferies (NY-08), Steven Horsford (NV-04), and Joyce Beatty (OH-03) and Donald Payne Jr (NJ-10).
In her remarks, Chairwoman Fudge reaffirmed the CBC’s commitment to advocating for policies that are in the best interest of people of color and that protect the most vulnerable populations in Congress. The chair also challenged members of the Caucus and all those in attendance to remember their role in positively influencing the course of history.
During the ceremony, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer honored and thanked the CBC for their legacy of service. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, and United States Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar were also in attendance.
Chairwoman Fudge’s remarks as prepared for delivery are included below:
Chairwoman Marcia L. Fudge
Official Remarks for the Congressional Black Congress Foundation’s Swearing-In Ceremony
January 3, 2013
Good morning everyone and thank you for joining us today for the ceremonial swearing in ceremony of the Congressional Black Caucus.
To Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and Assistant Democratic Leader and CBC Member James Clyburn, Secretary Ken Salazar and former Members of the CBC here in the audience, thank you for joining us today.
Special thank you, to my good friend Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, for the warm welcome and introduction. Emanuel and I have become great friends and I have learned much from him. Emanuel has been a leader not just for the CBC but for the entire House. I am grateful to be able to call you “friend” and know that I stand on your shoulders.
To each of the former Chairs of the CBC, thank you for your leadership and service. Know that I will be calling on you from time to time.
Thank you to the sponsor of this event, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; and two very special partners, Fed Ex and Key Bank. To today’s program participants, thank you for being a part of this day. I’d like to especially thank my pastor, Reverend George Stewart of Zion Chapel Baptist Church and Federal Judge Benita Pearson of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, for traveling from Cleveland to be here with us.
Thank you to my fellow Members of the Congressional Black Caucus for their support and encouragement, and for entrusting me with the distinction of serving as your Chair for the 113th Congress.
Joining us today are my family and many of my closest friends. These people represent my lifeline. To my loved ones, many of whom have walked with me from the very beginning, I thank you for being here today. And to my mother, the person who embodies the very essence of who I am, thank you for your presence here today; always right beside me.
To all the family, friends, and staff of Members of the CBC, thank you for your support – we did not get here alone. I’d also like to acknowledge that we are honored to have my sorors, members of Delta Sigma Theta, joining us today. Thank you all for being here.
During the holidays and the short time we spent away from the grind and noise of Washington, I read a little Shakespeare. Don’t be alarmed. I don’t plan to recite a sonnet for you, but the first few lines of one of his most well-known monologues inspired my remarks today.
It reads: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances and one man, in his time, plays many parts.” Forty-two years ago, the CBC entered the national stage and we have become major players.
I’d just like us to think about that for a minute, within the context of the time we’ve all been given to serve, and the role each of us in this auditorium has to play.
The thirteen founding Members of the Congressional Black Caucus established this body to positively influence the course of events affecting African Americans and others with similar interests. Since then, CBC Members - some of the most well-educated and talented Members of Congress - have led many of the most pivotal discussions and initiatives. We have been at the forefront of the movement against social and economic injustice.
Though we are not without our critics, there are millions of people around the world of all races and ethnicities who are reaping the benefits of our work every day.
Whether it is a violation of human rights in Africa or the compromise of our civil or constitutional rights in America, we’ve worked across borders and boundaries on behalf of the voiceless in every corner of this country and around the globe. Indeed, the world has been a stage for the Congressional Black Caucus.
The work of the Members of the Congressional Black Caucus over the past four decades is our story, and it is also your story. It is every American’s story. What our leaders knew, and what each of us must remember, is that we all have a role to play in the narrative we are creating together.
Each of us must recognize and realize our unique place in history and know that the choices we make and the risks we take on a daily basis matter to us now, and will matter even more to those who will carry the legacy forward.
All the world’s a stage and every man and woman a player.
After years of progress, we are now witnessing opportunities that allow everyone to realize their highest potential disappear – in our communities, in our schools, and in some cases in our homes. This, my friends, is a fight, our fight. If we are merely players at this juncture in our history, let us play to win. Our present and our future depend on it.
So what does this mean for the Congressional Black Caucus? It means that this Caucus will continue to take on the issues that no one else wants to touch. We will continue to fight and to stand together, and stand alone if that is what it takes. There have been times when people believed we had taken a back seat on issues that are important to our community, or times when people thought we should have been more forward, but I can promise you that has never been and will never be the case.
Every Member of the CBC has weighed in on the most critical issues of our time, standing up for what’s right even if you may never hear about it.
In the words of Barbara Jordan, the first African American woman from the south elected to the House of Representatives, “the imperative is to define what is right and then do it” – and in our case, we do it even when no one knows. Under my leadership, we will continue to “do it.”
We need your help. Please understand and trust that we are fighting for you. There has been a lot of chatter about what “black folk” can or cannot get – what we do or do not deserve - but understand that within our caucus there is an ongoing discussion and sometimes argument about the issues that are of importance to this nation. We wade through options to arrive at our best approach to make certain the Congressional Black Caucus takes a meaningful stand.
Finally, the Congressional Black Caucus is and has always been the conscience of the Congress. Every day, we do our very best to stay true to this mission. We take seriously our shared responsibility to hold this Congress accountable for what it does or does not do.
Yes, we are the conscience of the Congress, but together, we are the conscience of this country. The whole is more than the sum of its parts. Speak up, let your voice be heard and know that we’re standing with you and standing up for you.
The world is a stage. It is what we do when we are on this stage---what we do during our time, that makes all the difference.
Again, thank you all for joining us today. Congratulations to my colleagues and particularly to our new Members. I look forward to the work we will do together.
Let’s just do it!