Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus

2021-2022 History and Legislative Guiding Principles

History and Purpose

After meeting in secrecy for several years, the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus was formally organized by then House Majority Leader K. Leroy Irvis during the 1973-74 legislative session. The founding members saw the need for the caucus because they felt that legislators representing minority districts needed to speak with a united voice regarding the issues and concerns of their constituents.

Today, the PLBC includes more than 30 members, representing urban, suburban and rural districts across the Commonwealth. Our members serve in leadership roles throughout the state legislature- as party caucus leaders, committee and delegation chairs, and appointees to various commissions and special committees. As our membership grows, becomes more diverse, and attains higher levels of leadership in the state legislature, the PLBC remains committed to:

  • Providing legislative, administrative and other supportive services to our members and their staff; and
  • Advancing, or when necessary defeating, legislation and policy that impacts the Commonwealth’s Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities.

Legislative Guiding Principles

Each legislative session, PLBC members sponsor legislation to eliminate disparities or create opportunities for BIPOC Pennsylvanians.

To this end, the PLBC works to advance an anti-racist, equitable, restorative, and reform-minded approach to legislation. We collaborate with BIPOC stakeholders, rely on inclusive data and research, and prioritize investments in our families, businesses and communities.


The members of the first organized PLBC were:
  • Senator Herbert Arlene
  • Senator Freeman Hankins
  • Representative K. Leroy Irvis, House Majority Leader
  • Representative Ulysses Shelton
  • Representative Joel J. Johnson
  • Representative Frank Oliver Sr.
  • Representative Dave Richardson
  • Representative Hardy Williams
  • Representative Lucien Blackwell
  • Representative Mitchell Melton
  • Representative Earl Vann
Former Chairs of the PLBC
  • Representative James Barber
  • Representative Dave P. Richardson, Jr.
  • Representative Frank Oliver Sr.
  • Representative Peter Truman
  • Representative Alfonso Deal
  • Representative Gordon Linton
  • Representative Vincent Hughes
  • Representative Harold James
  • Representative James R. Roebuck
  • Representative LeAnna M. Washington, first female chair
  • Representative Thaddeus Kirkland
  • Representative Ronald G. Waters
  • Representative Vanessa Lowery Brown
  • Representative Jordan A. Harris
  • Representative Stephen Kinsey