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PLBC Chairwoman Donna Bullock Remarks on Somber Anniversary

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Kenyatta bill to convey New Freedom Theatre back to organization clears PA House

(Apr 09, 2024)

HARRISBURG, April 9 – After more than 30 years under state conservatorship the New Freedom Theatre is a step closer to being returned to the care of its parent organization thanks to legislation authored by state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., and passed by the PA House today. Kenyatta’s bill ( H.B. 1518 ) would authorize the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to grant and convey the tract of land that contains the iconic New Freedom Theatre in North Philadelphia to New Freedom Theatre Inc. for $1. According to Kenyatta, the theater that started in a North Philadelphia storefront with the support of the Black People’s Unity Movement in the mid-1960s has worked to chronicle African American History in the performing arts with playwrights and artists including Erika Alexander, James Baldwin, Denzel Washington, August Wilson, Sonia Sanchez, Grover Washington, Jr. and Glynn Turman. It also has provided professional theatrical training to tens of thousands of students over the years. “The New Freedom Theatre is a cultural treasure in the 181st District and the city of Philadelphia. Its deep history and future potential give us hope,” Kenyatta said. “As the theater continues to stand strong in its status as a bastion of Black culture in Philadelphia, its site has preservation needs that come with any structure built in the 1800s. The organization is working to preserve the site’s history so Read more

PLBC proposes legislation to help with fair housing

(Apr 09, 2024)

HARRISBURG, April 9 – Members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus spoke at a news conference today regarding legislation that would create a fairer housing market. April serves as National Fair Housing Month, bringing awareness and advocating policy for individuals that have been discriminated against and wrongfully evicted, and educating residents on their housing rights and the resources available to them. House Bill 96 , introduced by state Rep. Donna Bullock, would prohibit landlords from inquiring or requiring disclosure about certain arrest records of potential tenants as a condition of a lease. “In Pennsylvania, a person can be denied a rental property based off a conviction or even just an arrest — it doesn’t matter if it was years ago or even decades ago. Many times, individuals who are denied a lease were never convicted, completed a deferred judgement or have long since turned their life around. And when landlords use this tactic, it’s overwhelmingly used to be discriminatory toward Black and brown Pennsylvanians,” Bullock said. “We must pass legislation that prohibits landlords from inquiring or requiring disclosure of certain arrest records — such as juvenile records, arrests with no conviction, convictions older than seven years and convictions that aren’t felonies or misdemeanors — as a condition of a lease. Housing Read more

Mayes honored with PLBC’s Crystal Bird Fauset Award

(Apr 04, 2024)

“As the first Black woman to represent the 24th Legislative District, I aspire to continue the legacy of former state Representative Fauset and I am especially honored to be recognized by my peers for my leadership in the Pennsylvania Black Maternal Health Caucus,” Mayes said. “While Representative Fauset served in the House, she advocated for Black Pennsylvanians, especially to make housing more affordable for Black communities in Philadelphia, health care more accessible, and women’s rights in labor." Read more

PLBC honors five with Crystal Bird Fauset Leadership Awards

(Mar 28, 2024)

NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus www.pahouse.com/PLBC PLBC honors five with Crystal Bird Fauset Leadership Awards HARRISBURG, March 28 – The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus honored five individuals with its Crystal Bird Fauset Leadership Awards today in the Capitol. This year’s awardees are: The Hon. Cherelle Parker , the first African-American woman mayor of Philadelphia. The Hon. Tamika Lane , judge of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. Black Maternal Health Caucus founders State Rep. Gina Curry , 164th Legislative District, Delaware County. State Rep. La’Tasha D. Mayes , 24th Legislative District, Allegheny County. State Rep. Morgan Cephas , 192nd, Legislative District, Philadelphia County. A native of Philadelphia’s Mt Airy neighborhood, Parker is a graduate of Lincoln University. In 2005 she became the youngest Black woman ever elected to the General Assembly, winning a seat in the House. She was first elected to Philadelphia City Council in 2015, and was elected majority leader in 2020. In 2023 she was elected mayor and was sworn in as Philadelphia’s 100 th mayor in January. Read more

Smith-Wade-El, Bullock hold news conference on youth homelessness

(Mar 27, 2024)

HARRISBURG, March 27 – State Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster, was joined by state Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., and community stakeholders in a Capitol news conference yesterday to call for an increase in the 2024-2025 budget to address the upcoming shortfall in supports for homeless youth in Pennsylvania. “Today, there are over 40,000 students without housing in our state, struggling to go to school and learn despite not having a home of their own,” Smith-Wade-El said. “Though our school districts have been able to provide some needed support thanks to the American Rescue Plan for Homeless Children and Youth, they will no longer be able to do so when this aid runs out January 31st, 2025. With evictions still on the rise since the COVID pandemic and affordable housing at a minimum, we should be doing everything we can to provide support to this vulnerable population, but right now there are no plans to make up for this shortfall in the proposed 2024-2025 budget. “I am calling on the state to step up and ensure that these vulnerable members of our society get the supports they need to feel safe and secure so they can succeed in school in the 2024-2025 state budget,” Smith-Wade-El said. “If we do not do this, I promise you that Pennsylvania will be plagued for years to come from the effects of our abandonment of these kids.” “Housing insecurity knows no boundaries. It spans rural townships and cities and Read more

Kinsey voter intimidation penalties bill approved by Judiciary Committee

(Mar 26, 2024)

HARRISBURG, March 26 – Today, the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee approved legislation ( H.B. 461 ) introduced by state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., that would provide enhanced penalties for individuals who intimidate others at a polling place. Pennsylvania law makes polling place intimidation a criminal offense that can lead to a misdemeanor or felony conviction, depending on the circumstances. In addition to requiring a higher burden of proof and a burdensome amount of time and money, a criminal conviction may not lead to the restoration of justice for the person whose right to vote has been violated. Kinsey’s bill would allow a person aggrieved by an individual convicted of polling place intimidation to bring civil action and recover punitive damages, reasonable attorney fees, and other legal costs. “Voting is a fundamental right all Americans have, and when folks go to a polling place to make their voice heard, they deserve to do so in peace without being harassed,” Kinsey said. “This legislation would bring justice to those who try to intimidate, harass, or bother others at the polls.” This legislation now moves to the full House for future consideration. Read more

Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, House Philadelphia Delegation, LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus release statement on Pennsylvania State Police traffic stop and arrest

(Mar 05, 2024)

PHILADELPHIA, March 5 – Leaders of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus and Philadelphia House Delegation today issued a statement in response to the traffic stop and subsequent arrest of Philadelphia’s head of LGBT affairs and her husband by a state trooper Saturday. According to news reports, Celena Morrison, the executive director of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs, recorded a portion of the arrest of her husband, Darius McLean, on the Vine Street Expressway. State Reps. Napoleon Nelson, chair of the PLBC, Malcolm Kenyatta, co-chair of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, and Morgan Cephas, chair of the Philadelphia House Delegation, said they have been in contact with state and local authorities surrounding the incident. “The video of the traffic stop of Celena Morrison and Darius McLean was deeply troubling,” stated Kenyatta, D-Phila. “We need a full, thorough, and expedient investigation into every aspect of this stop.” “My sympathies go out to the family dealing with the trauma of this incident, and I stand in solidarity with the communities that have experienced their own traumas as a result,” Nelson, D-Montgomery, said. “The investigation that we are expecting will help us determine accountability measures needed and identify necessary policy changes that we can craft at the state level that will enhance community safety at home. Those changes may come in the Read more

PLBC supports Cheney University community in accreditation fight

(Feb 23, 2024)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 23 – Members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus today stood with Cheney University officials, the student community, Gov. Josh Shapiro and others at a rally in support of efforts to remove the nation’s first historically Black college from probation in its accreditation. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education recently placed Cheyney on probation and gave university officials until March 1 to submit a plan that maps out how they plan to continue educating students should they fully lose their accreditation. The event acted both as a celebration of the university’s 187 th anniversary and a rally to fight back against what they consider unfair and groundless treatment by MSCHE. Rep. Napoleon Nelson, PLBC chairman, and Sen. Vince Hughes, who previously chaired the PLBC and is now the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a Cheyney University Trustee, both offered remarks. PLBC members Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, and Rep. Carol Kazeem, D-Delaware, joined Nelson and Hughes on behalf of the caucus. According to university officials who also spoke at the event, MSCHE auditors made multiple on-site evaluations at the university last year and offered them a clean bill of health. So it was a complete surprise to them to be placed on probation and threatened with losing their accreditation. “Cheyney University is the nation’s oldest Historically Black Read more

Applications open for PLBC’s Roebuck Scholarship

(Jan 29, 2024)

NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus www.pahouse.com/PLBC Applications open for PLBC’s Roebuck Scholarship HARRISBURG, Jan. 29 – Applications are now being accepted for the 2024-25 James R. Roebuck Scholarship by the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus Foundation. This prestigious scholarship was named after the Hon. James R. Roebuck, former member of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus and champion for education. Roebuck served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1985-2020 and served as chair of both the House Education Committee and the PLBC. The $1,000 scholarship is funded by private donations and does not use any taxpayer or other public dollars. To be eligible an applicants must be a: Resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Person of color. Graduating high school senior or current undergraduate college student. The application deadline is 5 p.m., Friday, April 5. Applicants are responsible for submitting all material to the PLBC on time. Incomplete applications will not be evaluated. Applications will be reviewed and scored by the scholarship committee. Successful applicants will receive the scholarship for educational Read more

Rep. Nelson’s measure to curb hate crimes passes PA House

(Nov 01, 2023)

NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE State Rep. Napoleon Nelson D-Montgomery County www.pahouse.com/ N elson Rep. Nelson’s measure to curb hate crimes passes PA House House Bill 1025 is part of larger package of bills designed to address hate crimes HARRISBURG, Oct. 31 – State Rep. Napoleon Nelson’s bill that would address hate crimes and help prevent them passed the PA House of Representatives Tuesday. House Bill 1025 is designed to train educators and school administrators to identify and address hate incidents before they become deadly. It would also expand existing anonymous reporting programs in K-12 schools and institutions of higher education to allow young people to easily speak up when they are the victims of or witnesses to incidences of hate-based intimidation. The legislation is part of a larger package of bills intended to modernize PA’s laws that address hate crimes and ethnic intimidation, The package includes H.B. 1024 , H.B. 1026 and H.B. 1027 . Those three bills were also passed by the PA House and, along with H.B. 1025, head to the state Senate for consideration. “Look at the headlines about what’s happening at our colleges, and you’ll see why kids don’t feel safe on campus Read more