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PLBC Fall 2022 newsletter

PLBC statement on S.B. 106

(Jul 08, 2022)

HARRISBURG, July 8 – The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus released a statement on the controversial S.B. 106: “While S.B. 106 was voted out of the House this evening, make no mistake – we will not stop the fight against this misguided measure. It’s journey to a full vote in the House has been purely partisan. "In the shadow of night, the Pennsylvania Senate voted to usurp the legislative process and vote to approve S.B. 106 – a measure that could ultimately take away rights of women to make decisions about their own health and make it harder for the public at large, particularly in Black and brown communities, to vote. This slippery slope maneuvering within the legislature is setting a precedent that will have devastating ramifications for generations to come. "The majority party is merely sidestepping the legislative process for their own personal ideology while stripping away basic rights for individuals -- some of the most precious and fought for rights that we have as Americans. If this were really about the will of the people, as the majority party has declared, we would be voting actual bills in the General Assembly. This is a secretive, power grab that will benefit one party, and they are doing it in a way that will change the course of legislating for a long time to come.” Read more


PLBC statement on 2022-23 state budget agreement

(Jul 08, 2022)

HARRISBURG, July 8 – The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus issued the following statement regarding the 2022-23 state budget bill, which passed the PA House of Representatives Thursday. “This budget will make historic investments in education, housing and gun violence prevention. These investments will improve the quality of life and create opportunities for Black Pennsylvanians, but there is more work to do. The members of the PLBC remain diligent and committed to advancing equitable budget proposals that meet the basic needs of our most vulnerable communities and continue to invest in PLBC’s ongoing priorities.” Some points from the $42 billion plan include a basic education funding increase of almost $750 million, including $225 million for Level Up funding to the state’s poorest school districts, as well as a special education funding increase of almost $100 million. There is another $100 million each for mental health, and school safety and security. A violence intervention and prevention grant program receives $75 million and $125 million is included for a Whole Home Repairs grant program. Read more


Bullock announces PLBC scholarship awardees

(Jun 21, 2022)

HARRISBURG, June 21 – State Rep. and PLBC Chair Donna Bullock, D-Phila., this week announced the awardees of the James R. Roebuck Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus Scholarship for 2022. A virtual award ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Thursday, June 23. It can be viewed here: https://www.pahouse.com/PLBC/2022Scholarships or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PALegislativeBlackCaucus . The scholarship recipients, their hometowns and the colleges or universities they are attending: Mikeiyah Bennett, Pittsburgh, Temple University Jasmine Easley, Upper Darby, St. John’s University Ryan Ellison, Wyncote, Duquesne University Mikel Hackel, Elkins Park, North Carolina A & T Brianna Mobley, Philadelphia, North Carolina A & T Joy Richardson, Philadelphia, no college listed Stephanie Toledo, Penbrook, Shippensburg University Grace Walker, McKeesport, North Carolina A & T Cameron West, Philadelphia, Hampton University Daianna Williams, Philadelphia, Louisiana State University Criteria for the $1,000 scholarships: A Pennsylvania resident. A person of color. A graduating high school senior or current undergrad at a college or university. Plan to enroll/return in full-time undergraduate study at an accredited two- or four-year college or university for the entire upcoming academic year. Students are also selected based on their academic success, leadership, extracurricular activities, community Read more


PLBC Commemorates Juneteenth

(Jun 14, 2022)

The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus celebrated the Juneteenth holiday with a commemoration of Black excellence, the promise of freedom and a call for a better, more equitable future. The event featured performances from Dwinnimen Dance Group of Harrisburg. Read more


Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus hosts Juneteenth program

(Jun 14, 2022)

HARRISBURG, June 14 -- State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, joined other House members for a Juneteenth celebration in the East Capitol Rotunda. "Juneteenth is a commemoration of the end of slavery and Black freedom, but that freedom hasn't been a straight line from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement to today,” Bullock said. “The struggle has been belabored and continues today. So, while we celebrate Black excellence, let us also recommit ourselves to do better as a nation and fight for a stronger democracy that ensures the promise of equity and freedom for all." Members from the Pennsylvania General Assembly joined with guests who performed spoken word poetry and African dance highlighting Black cultural achievements. Members who spoke at the celebration agreed that while Juneteenth was the start of independence for Black people in America, there is still much work to be done to truly achieve not only equality – but equity. Although Juneteenth has been celebrated unofficially since its inception, it is a newly added federal holiday that recognizes the day that Texas, the last state to have enslaved people, announced that all enslaved peoples were now free on June 19, 1865. Gov. Wolf also officially recognized Juneteenth as a holiday in 2019. Photos: Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus | Photo Gallery (pahouse.com) Read more


Bullock: Investments to Reduce Gun Violence

(May 25, 2022)

Chair of the Pa. Legislative Black Caucus state Rep. Donna Bullock rose to speak on behalf of Black Pennsylvanians. After another mass shooting, this time in Texas, she is asking everyone to recognize that her children and many in her community are dealing with shootings every single day. She is working to address the underfunding of schools, social services and more that has led to this gun violence. Bullock relates that we are all going through the same storm, but experiencing it very differently as we are not in the same boat. Read more


PLBC honors the late House Speaker Irvis with day of action

(May 23, 2022)

HARRISBURG, May 23 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, and colleagues from the PLBC today commemorated the 45th anniversary of the inauguration of the late Speaker K. Leroy Irvis with a day of action. “This inaugural day of action not only commemorates the accomplishments of the first and only Black speaker in the Pennsylvania legislature to date,” Bullock said, “but it is also an opportunity to amplify the voices of Black Pennsylvanians and the issues that are important to our communities." Irvis was born in New York and graduated from the State University of New York at Albany. He moved to Baltimore and taught high school English and history until World War II. He was a civilian flying instructor for the War Department. After, he settled in Pittsburgh where he earned a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh. In 1958, he was elected to the state legislature, eventually being elected by his peers as speaker of the House. He served in the legislature for 15 consecutive terms. “Forty-five years after his historic election as House Speaker, K. Leroy Irvis’s leadership is still felt by countless Pennsylvanians. He was a man of great character who forged a path that many of us have worked to emulate,” said House Democratic Leader, Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila/Delaware. “To fully recognize his contributions, we should view Speaker Irvis’s legacy Read more


Bullock Leads Inaugural K. Leroy Irvis Day of Action

(May 23, 2022)

State Rep. Donna Bullock, chairwoman of the Pa. Legislative Black Caucus, leads the inaugural K. Leroy Irvis Day of Action to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the election of Irvis as the first Black speaker of any state legislature in the U.S. and make heard the voices of legislators and advocates working to address systemic inequities across Pennsylvania. Read more


Parker: Health Equity Funding is Long Overdue

(May 16, 2022)

Pa. state Rep. Darisha Parker joined legislative leaders and healthcare officials to announce state funding to address health equity, including $1 Million for the Black Doctors Consortium Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity in North Philadelphia. The pandemic laid bare the vast inequities in healthcare for Black and brown communities, which the Black Doctors Consortium worked hard to alleviate. Read more


Inaugural PA Tourism Office grants awarded to seven for Juneteenth celebrations

(Apr 25, 2022)

HARRISBURG, April 25 – The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus today joined the Wolf administration and the nonprofit Voices Underground in celebrating the inaugural awarding of Journeying Toward Freedom grants through the Pennsylvania Tourism Office, according to PLBC Chair and state Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila. The inaugural awards will support Juneteenth celebrations across the commonwealth in 2022 for seven organizations. "The importance of the awarding of these grants cannot be understated,” Bullock said. “The history of Juneteenth has been only recently officially recognized, but its historic cultural significance had been long celebrated by Black communities in Pennsylvania. "In order to highlight – even amplify – the importance of this day and Black culture in Pennsylvania, it is critical that we support Juneteenth events statewide, invest in Black businesses and institutions, and target Black travelers in our ongoing tourism initiatives." Juneteenth celebrates the anniversary of the day in 1865 that news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Galveston, Texas, and enslaved African Americans became aware that they had been freed. In 2019, Gov. Tom Wolf declared June 19 of each year as Juneteenth National Freedom Day. Last year, President Joe Biden signed legislation recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday. The Journeying Toward Freedom grant program was established by the Pennsylvania Tourism Office in Read more


Cephas announces Medicaid extension for postpartum care, highlights new money for maternal health initiatives

(Apr 18, 2022)

PHILADELPHIA, April 18 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas joined state Sen. Tim Kearney and Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Meg Snead today at the Maternity Care Coalition in Philadelphia to highlight the implementation of Opt In PA, an initiative extending Medicaid support for postpartum individuals from 60 days to one year across the state. President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan Act included a provision that gives states an option to extend Medicaid coverage up to one year postpartum; the Pa. Department of Human Services made the decision to opt into this provision, extending that coverage from 60 days to one year. Implementation was effective April 1. “Constituents who use Medicaid should contact their providers to see how this impacts them and their care,” said Cephas, who co-chairs the General Assembly’s Women’s Health Caucus and serves on the Pennsylvania Commission for Women. Cephas also discussed a recently committed $25.6 million in American Rescue Plan funding for a new maternal and child health initiative in Pennsylvania called the COVID-19 Nurturing Maternal and Child Health Initiative. The initiative recognizes the impact the pandemic had on Pennsylvania communities and makes strategic investments to implement innovative and informed improvements into the public health continuum. NMCH will reach millions of more birthing parents and children through doula services, targeted services, healthy eating Read more


Cephas, Tartaglione announce $25.6M in funding for maternal, child health

(Apr 14, 2022)

PHILADELPHIA, April 14 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas and state Sen. Christine Tartaglione, along with fellow lawmakers and the Wolf administration, today announced $25.6 million in American Rescue Plan funding to be allocated for a new maternal and child health initiative in Pennsylvania. The funding announcement also coincides with Black Maternal Health Week, April 11-17 . “With the promise in this funding, we are putting money into solving maternal mortality and working to address the social determinants of health that contribute to the crisis we are experiencing across Pennsylvania," Cephas said. “The administration’s opting Pennsylvania into extended Medicaid was a major move to start solving part of the crisis now, as well. That program began April 1, and the initiatives we’re announcing today are going to reach millions of more birthing parents and children through doula services, targeted services, healthy eating pilot programs and lead remediation.” “Our democratic counterparts in the US House and Senate sent Pennsylvania billions of dollars in the American Rescue Plan to reinvest to strengthen our commonwealth,” Tartaglione said. “We cannot let the historic opportunity afforded to us pass without making life-changing and crucially needed investments in historically disinvested communities. The allocation of this grant money will help Temple Woman’s and Infant’s Hospital finally open Read more


PLBC introduces resolution for National Minority Health Month in PA

(Apr 13, 2022)

HARRISBURG, April 13 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, along with PLBC members Reps. Stephen Kinsey, Patty Kim and Manuel Guzman, introduced a resolution that would recognize April 2022 as National Minority Health Month in Pennsylvania. The resolution was spurred by National Minority Health Week, which was inspired by the creation of National Negro Health Week in 1915 by Booker T. Washington and the U.S. Public Health Service. The focus was to improve the overall health status of Black Americans and to encourage Black professionals to join the medical field. National Negro Health Week then grew into the National Negro Health Movement to educate the public about continuing health disparities year-round. The U.S. Public Health Service then published National Negro Health News to update on activities of the movement and publish reports on Black health in America. The theme for 2022 is Give Your Community a Boost, which supports the CDC’s recommendation of the Covid-19 vaccine and booster shot as a means to combat the global pandemic. “Minorities are significantly more at risk for both terminal and treatable illnesses,” Bullock said. “But because many do not have access to affordable health care or insurance, the life-saving power of early detection by a primary care physician is hardly ever obtainable. These health disparities were exposed during and because of the recent pandemic.” The Read more


PLBC awards Crystal Bird Fauset Leadership honorees  

(Apr 01, 2022)

HARRISBURG, March 31 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today announced the awardees of the PLBC Crystal Bird Fauset Leadership Award during Women’s History Month. The award is named in honor of former state Rep. Crystal Bird Fauset, who was a Democrat elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1938 and represented Philadelphia’s 18th Legislative District. She was the first Black woman elected in any state legislature. “For too long, Black women and their accomplishments have been ignored,” Bullock said. “This award stands for all of the accomplishments that have been made, all of the accomplishments we are making, and all the accomplishments that are coming. I am so proud to honor each of these Black women with the PLBC Crystal Bird Fauset Leadership Award. In history, some of the greatest movements have been led by Black women -- from the Underground Railroad to the Black Lives Matter movement -- and too often the leadership had been minimized. Our honorees today carry on the great legacy of outstanding women who embody the spirit of Fauset and who have made significant contributions to Pennsylvania and the Black community as leaders and history makers.” The honorees are the House Democratic leader, state Rep. Joanna McClinton, first Black woman leader in the Pennsylvania General Assembly; Estelle Richman, former secretary of the Pennsylvania Department Read more


Bullock announces PLBC scholarship, application period

(Mar 23, 2022)

HARRISBURG, March 23 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, chair of the PLBC, this week announced that the James R. Roebuck Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus scholarship application period is now open. Ten individuals will be selected by the PLBC to receive scholarships worth $1,000 each, which will be awarded through the PLBC Foundation to Pennsylvania residents who meet the following criteria: Be a person of color. Be a graduating high school senior or current undergrad at a college or university. Plan to enroll/return to full-time undergraduate study at an accredited two- or four-year college or university for the entire upcoming academic year. Attend the scholarship awards presentation in Harrisburg. Complete the online application. Deadline to apply is April 30 and only the first 100 applicants will be processed. Go to https://www.pahouse.com/PLBC and under the scholarship tab, apply online or get more information. “The cost of higher education is climbing and is potentially out of reach for so many students,” said Bullock, D-Phila. “We want to help students who aspire to go to college achieve that goal any way we can. Students are selected based on their academic success, leadership, extracurricular activities, community participation and financial need. This is an important task as we are choosing our future leaders in business, education, medicine and our communities.” Last year the scholarship was renamed the James R. Read more


Cephas joins First Lady Wolf, administration officials, Tuttleman Foundation to announce doula pilot program for pregnant women who are incarcerated

(Feb 14, 2022)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 14 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas joined First Lady Frances Wolf and the Departments of Human Services and Corrections to announce a new partnership that is bringing doula services to women who are pregnant while incarcerated. Doula services have been found to ease the pregnancy and labor process and improve birth outcomes for both mother and child, according to many studies. Funded through the Tuttleman Foundation, the doula pilot at State Correctional Institute Muncy will expand pregnancy and parenting supports for women who are incarcerated, a key goal of Cephas’s. Wolf said that the goal of the program is to support mothers through a difficult and vulnerable period and empower them as they prepare to re-enter their communities. “I'm glad – and proud – to see that the Department of Corrections is recognizing the importance of doulas in the fight to reduce maternal mortality among incarcerated women and improve birthing outcomes for birthing people and children,” Cephas said. “We now have an opportunity to capitalize on this momentum to pass legislation in the House or Senate to include Medicaid coverage for doulas for all birthing people, and the full Dignity for Incarcerated Women bill to show compassion for the unique circumstances that these women face.” Cephas was previously joined by Dream Corps JUSTICE, the American Conservative Union and Ardella’s House, along with other stakeholders, Read more


PLBC response to Gov. Wolf’s budget address

(Feb 08, 2022)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 8 –The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus responded today to Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2022-23 budget proposal, applauding his investment in important programs without a tax increase, according to PLBC Chairwoman Donna Bullock, D-Phila. “Continuing our work in addressing issues that impact communities of color will remain our focus as we move forward in this year, reaching out to the governor in urging his support for meaningful initiatives,” Bullock said. “We’ve been able to secure funding for important programs that combat community and gun violence but so much more work needs to be done. We will remain steadfast in our determination to provide guidance to the governor on these and other issues that are of importance to the people of Pennsylvania who are affected by these particular issues, like fair education funding, access to healthcare, environmental justice and programs to combat gun violence, to name a few.” “The governor’s budget address is just the first step in the long process of crafting a budget that benefits as many Pennsylvanians as possible, said PLBC Vice Chairwoman Summer Lee, D-Allegheny. “We need to draft a spending plan that funds fixes to our toxic schools, ensures fair wages for all workers, and helps folks who are struggling to pay their bills. It’s time to get to work and create a budget that is fair and equitable for all Pennsylvanians, Read more


Measure recognizes February as Black History Month in Pa.

(Jan 28, 2022)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 28 – State Reps. Donna Bullock, Summer Lee and Carol Hill-Evans have introduced a resolution to recognize February 2022 as Black History Month in Pennsylvania. The 2022 theme is Black Health and Wellness, acknowledging the legacy of Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine but also other ways of knowing, such as midwives, naturopaths and herbalists, throughout the African Diaspora. In Pennsylvania, the theme of health and wellness correlates directly to the work of the PA Legislative Black Caucus on health equity during the pandemic. “Black History Month would not have been possible without the creation of Negro History Week in the United States by famous historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro life and history,” said Bullock, who is also chair of the PA Legislative Black Caucus. “The focus was to teach and encourage the history of Black Americans at a primary level.” Bullock said Woodson’s vision later evolved in 1969, where the idea of Black History Month -- instead of a week -- was promoted by students and educators at Kent State University followed by its first celebration on campus in 1970. U.S. President Gerald Ford praised Black History Month and urged citizens to seize the opportunity to honor the too often neglected and overlooked accomplishments of Black Americans throughout history. Read more


PLBC welcomes new executive director

(Jan 11, 2022)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 11 – State Rep. and Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus Chair Donna Bullock today announced that April Ashe is the new executive director of the PLBC. “We welcome April and look forward to her tenure with the Black caucus,” said Bullock, D-Phila. “She has worked with the Democratic Caucus for more than a decade and brings a wealth of knowledge and savvy to the position.” Ashe began her career with the House Democrats as an intern in 2009. She graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in integrated studies from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, with concentrations in political science and psychology. She is currently studying for her master’s degree in educational psychology at Purdue University Global. She has served as a legislative assistant to PLBC members, including former state Rep. Jake Wheatley, Jr., who is now chief of staff for Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey. She has worked as a research analyst for the House Commerce, Finance, and Professional Licensure committees. A Harrisburg resident, she holds a monthly Self Care Saturday’s event in her community and is a volunteer with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America in Harrisburg, teaching yoga and meditative practices to the youth. She partners with Healthy Harrisburg and speaks to youth groups and single-mother groups on the importance of self-care and emotional intelligence. She can be reached at (717) 772-6955 or through email at Read more


Bullock statement on Jan. 5 Fairmount fire

(Jan 06, 2022)

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 6 – State Rep. and PA Legislative Black Caucus Chair Donna Bullock released a statement addressing the Jan. 5 Fairmount fire. “The devastating events of yesterday morning have hit home for everyone, particularly because of the tragic loss of life. While the investigation is not over yet, news accounts claim this is the deadliest fire in more than a century in the city. “This is a neighborhood in my legislative district where the people are caring and warm, are families with small children, and are older folks all who come together to make it a community. We are sending our condolences and prayers to everyone impacted and offering assistance where we are able. “But as we move forward, and as we find out definitive facts about this tragedy, it is imperative that we as legislators and community leaders do more to provide resources like affordable housing for families, support for a safe living environment and economic resources as necessary and when people need it the most.” Read more