History of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

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"The Joint Center is truly one of the leading academies of independent thought in Washington today."
President George H.W. Bush, 1990

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies was founded in 1970 to lend a hand to black leaders as the traveled the uncharted road from civil rights activisim to the political establishment. Its most prominent founders were Dr. Kenneth B. Clark, a renowned social psychologist, and Louis E. Martin, the legendary news paper editor who had become a key presidential adviser on issues affecting black America.

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Originally known as the Joint Center for Political Studies, the Joint Center  brought together black intellectuals and professionals to provide training and technical assistance to newly elected black officials. Today, the Joint Center is recognized as one of the nation's premier think tanks on a broad range of public policy issues of concern to African Americans and other communities of color.

The history of the Joint Center has not only reflected the progress African Americans have made since the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but has also mirrored the nation's political and socio-economic progress over the last three decades. When the Joint Center first opened its doors, there were 1,469 black elected officials (BEOs). There are now over 10,000 BEOs in the United States.

Increasing black political participation formed the foundation of much of the Joint Center's work during the 70's and the 80's. However, as the civil rights era gave way to the era of "economic rights," the Joint Center signaled its expanding focus on job creation and workforce development and changed its name to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. The principal areas of work now include political participation, economic advancementhealth policy, energy and the environment, and media and technology. The Joint Center stands primed to continue to drive the nation's public policy discussions with independent and reliable research, analysis and assessment.

From 1972 to 2011, FOCUS magazine provided coverage of national issues to our leadership audience. Over 18,000 readers, nearly half of whom are black elected officials, read the magazine for its in-depth, yet straightforward features on politics and the broad range of economic and social concerns affecting African Americans and the nation at large.

While FOCUS is currently on hiatus, our archives are here.