Joint Center Updates

Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings Begin, House Passes CROWN Act Banning Discrimination Against Hairstyles & More: March 24 Roundup

Biden Administration

KBJ

Senate confirmation hearings begin for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson: The Senate confirmation hearings started Monday for Judge Brown Jackson, President Biden’s first nominee for the Supreme Court of the United States. The hearings are expected to conclude today and Democrats hope to move Judge Brown Jackson to a confirmation vote in early April. If confirmed, she will be the first Black woman to sit on the high court. The Joint Center continues to support Judge Brown Jackson, and urges the Senate to confirm her.

Judge Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination may not be enough to drive Black voter turnout for midterms: Activists are concerned that President Biden may not be focusing enough on securing Black voters, including the Black female demographic that was key to his gaining the White House, as midterm elections approach, USA Today reports.

The Joint Center recently released a survey of Black Americans’ priorities on the economy one year into the Biden-Harris administration. This poll highlights the opinions and attitudes of Black Americans on some of these key issues, as discussed.

Biden administration outlines support for HBCUs victimized by bomb threats: The White House released a fact sheet that outlines actions and resources for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that have recently been the target of bomb threats. Following briefings with more than 40 HBCU presidents,  Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro  Mayorkas, and Vice President Harris announced HBCUs are eligible to receive grants from the Department of Education’s Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) program. The administration is also making resources available through other federal agencies, including the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Justice. ABC News reports that Congress also addressed the threats, which the FBI called “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism.”

Other activist organizations have remained committed to supporting HBCUs and ensuring campus safety at this time. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund President and Director Counsel Janai Nelson testified before the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security in response to the ongoing crisis of extremist attacks on Black institutions, citing bomb threats made against HBCUs as evidence of “increased white extremist violence across the country.”

The Joint Center also issued a statement condemning the series of bomb threats that impacted HBCUs across the nation. “We join our allies who have called out the domestic terrorism against HBCUs and stand with the students in their right to have a safe campus environment, free from threats of hate-based violence.”


The Hill

Natural hair

Legislation banning discrimination against Black hairstyles passed by the House: The Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act, a bill banning discrimination against individuals based on how they choose to wear their hair, has been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, The Washington Post reports. The legislation was introduced by Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and prohibits discrimination “based on the individual’s hair texture or hairstyle, if that hair texture or that hairstyle is commonly associated with a particular race or national origin.” Cornrows, afros, twists, braids, and locs are among the hairstyles specifically mentioned in the legislation, the future of which is uncertain in the Senate. Similar legislation has already been enacted in more than a dozen states.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF), the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the National Urban League commended the House for passing the CROWN Act. Lawyers’ Committee President and Executive Director Damon Hewitt urged the Senate to “quickly take up this important legislation, which would ensure that Black students are not prohibited from attending or participating in school events because of their natural hair, that Black employees are not subject to pretextual firing or negative employment actions because of their hair texture or style, and that Black people are accorded dignity and respect in choosing to embrace a natural hairstyle.”

Upcoming congressional hearings include: Hearings To Examine The Nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson, of the District of Columbia, to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (Senate Judiciary Committee, March 24); Catalyzing Economic Growth Through SBA Community-Based Lending (House Small Business Committee, Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access, March 29).


Movement Building

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Lawyers’ Committee urged Congress to confirm President Biden’s nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. After issuing a report of a review of Judge Brown Jackson’s record on civil rights issues, Lawyers’ Committee President and Executive Director Damon Hewitt said she “has the extraordinary qualifications, experience, and character to serve the nation on the Supreme Court.”

LDF joined with other civil rights groups to send a letter to Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson regarding the disproportionate impact of polling place changes on Black voters during the 2020 presidential election. The letter urged Secretary Watson’s office to implement formal rules and guidance to ensure that voters receive accurate and timely information concerning polling site changes.

LDF submitted testimony to the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security hearing on “Reimagining Public Safety in the COVID-19 Era.” As an alternative to increased policing, the organization cited “strategies that address the root causes of violence by promoting economic stability, housing, access to health care, and violence interruption programs.”

The Lumina and Annie E. Casey foundations recently partnered with 22 Historically Black Community Colleges (HBCCs) and Predominantly Black Community Colleges (PBCCs) across eight states to develop a network committed to supporting communities of color’s workforce needs. The PBCC-HBCC Network will share research and best practices to strengthen the career and economic outcomes of community college students of color.


Events

NAN Convention

The National Action Network Convention 2022 will be at the Sheraton Times Square New York Hotel in New York City, April 6-9.

Joint Center Vice President of Policy Jessica Fulton will be a panelist at the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Race for Results report virtual event April 11 at 11 a.m. ET.

The National Organization of Black County Officials 36th Annual Economic Development Conference will be in (Shelby County) Memphis, TN, April 20.

The African American Mayors Association 2022 Annual Conference, “The Time for Transformation In Our Cities,” will be in Washington, DC, April 27-29.

The National Urban League Annual Conference 2022 will be in Washington, D.C., July 20-23.

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