By Denise Ladji
Gentrification and lack of affordable housing, the 2020 census, and criminal reform were the topics discussed as U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Sheepshead Bay, Park Slope) brought Washington’s Congressional Black Caucus’ State of Black America Series to Central Brooklyn last week.
“I put this series together so that we can gather to see the implications at every level in how our communities really have come together–and to make sure that our empowerment is not reflected by the diminishing presence that we may have in certain communities in Black Brooklyn and across America,” said Clarke.
Among the stops was Medgar Evers College, 1650 Bedford Avenue in Crown Heights, where Dr. John Flateau, Chair & Executive Director of the DuBois Bunche Center led a discussion about the pervasive and ever-present influence of gentrification.
Panelists included U.S. Reps. Dwight Evans (D-PA) and Gwen Moore (D-WI), City Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel (D-Brownsville) and Mark Winston-Griffith, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Movement Center.
“We don’t have time to sit idly by while lack of affordable housing becomes out of reach for so many Black Americans–especially here in Brooklyn,” said Clarke.
U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) followed with a discussion 2020 census and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“Every [Black] community must be counted in 2020 so Black-Americans can receive accurate program funding based on these Census counts while simultaneously counteracting actions by the Trump administration aimed at disadvantaging black communities,” said Clarke.
U.S. Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) held the final event, a town hall on Criminal Justice Reform at IS 392, 104 Sutter Avenue in Brownsville.
Panelists included U.S. Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA) and Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Dr. Byron Price, a professor at Medgar Evers College, and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. The panelists discussed ways to reduce incarceration and divert offenders away from prison.
Black Congressional Caucus members also toured the Weeksville Heritage Center in Crown Heights, one of Brooklyn’s most cherished historical and cultural institutions, which preserves Brooklyn’s Black history and culture.
The Center is named in honor of the Weeksville community, the second largest free black community in Antebellum America.