Joint Center Updates


Joint Center President Reflects on 54 Years of Progress, Policies, and Promise

As I begin to settle into the role of president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, I am filled with a sense of reflection and anticipation. For over five decades, our organization has been at the forefront of advocating for policies that uplift and empower Black communities across America. This month, as we mark 54 years of progress, it is essential to acknowledge the strides we have made while reaffirming our commitment to advancing the full freedom of Black people in this country.

Looking back on our organization’s history, I see a legacy of resilience, advocacy, and impactful policy solutions. From the Civil Rights Movement to the present day, the Joint Center, founded by the renowned social psychologist Dr. Kenneth B. Clark, and Louis E. Martin, the legendary newspaper editor who was a key presidential advisor on issues affecting Black America, has been a trusted forum for leading experts and scholars to engage in major public policy debates and promote ideas that benefit Black communities.

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. Our role was to hold up political participation as the path to success, and at the time, we were the only organization that kept a roster of Black politicians. As a result, according to former Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY), the Congressional Black Caucus was founded using our roll books.

The history of the Joint Center has not only reflected the progress African Americans made since the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but also mirrored the nation’s political and socio-economic progress over the last five decades. When the Joint Center first opened its doors, there were 1,469 Black elected officials in the United States. Currently, we provide support to over 10,000 Black legislators, offering them access to our original data and research. Our work in Economic, Workforce, and Technology policies, our inclusion advocacy found in Hill Diversity and presidential appointments initiatives, and our raising Black voices as it relates to policy, serves as a foundational resource for federal policy development. It has long been evident that Black communities stand to lose the most when our concerns are not centered in policymaking, yet we stand to gain the most when legislators actively address our needs.

Through evidence-based research, analysis, convenings, and strategic communications, we have worked to dismantle persistent barriers to equity and opportunity. Yet, as we celebrate our achievements, we must also recognize the challenges that lie ahead. The fight for racial justice and economic equity is far from over, and the work of the Joint Center remains as critical as ever. In the face of a regressive agenda and amidst ongoing racial and economic inequality, we must redouble our efforts to enact meaningful policy reforms that address the root causes of inequality.

In the 21st century, the issue of race remains a central and deeply ingrained source of inequity and division in the United States. As we navigate the complexities of the modern era, it is imperative that organizations like the Joint Center take a leadership role in addressing these persistent challenges. My goal as the president of America’s Black think tank is to position our organization at the forefront of efforts to transcend historical divisions, contemporary inequality, and injustice in America.

This entails not only recognizing the political and economic foundations of inequality but also actively working to dismantle the structures and institutions that perpetuate them. It requires a continued commitment to analyzing policy, centering the experiences and voices of Black communities, and ensuring that our needs and concerns are not only heard but prioritized in the decision-making process.

Moreover, as a non-partisan organization, we must foster dialogue, collaboration, and coalition-building across political, racial, and economic lines to promote policies that will focus on the needs and concerns of the African American community. It is only through these types of partnerships and analysis can we hope to advance the collective solutions needed to address these centuries old divisions. At the heart of this endeavor is a commitment to justice, fairness, and equity for Black communities. It is about recognizing the inherent dignity and worth of Black Americans and striving to create a world where opportunity and prosperity are accessible for our communities.

In leading the Joint Center, my aim is to harness the power of research and policy analysis to drive meaningful change and finally get the nation beyond its original sin of racial injustice. It is a bold vision, but one that is essential if we are to truly live up to the ideals of democracy,  just treatment, and inclusion of the nation’s African American citizens.

Please help us celebrate our 54th anniversary by making a donation to the Joint Center.