G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) will be the next leader of the Congressional Black Caucus. Butterfield, who represents much of Eastern North Carolina, was unanimously elected on Wednesday by the 45 member group.
“I’m moved by the unwavering support the CBC has shown me throughout the years,” said Butterfield in a release. He is the caucus's most recent Vice-Chair.
The CBC was formally initiated in 1970, a time when the struggles of black Americans were at the forefront of the national conversation. Butterfield believes that minority voters still face significant hurdles and that the caucus is just as relevant today as it was decades ago.
"Right now the disparity between black and white in this country continues to be what it was 30 years ago and that is unacceptable," said Butterfield. "And it is our challenge as legislators to do something about it -- at least to fight for a change."
Some of the priorities Butterfield lists for the caucus are:
- The economy, and bringing African American families to a level of financial security comparable to other parts of society.
- Education, and the support of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
- The disparate rates of incarceration among black men.
Butterfield served as a judge for 15 years in North Carolina before going to Washington.
One currently pressing issue Butterfield says the caucus is keeping an eye on is the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri. It's considering whether there is sufficient evidence to bring the white officer accused of shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown to trial. Butterfield hopes they will proceed to a 12-person jury.
"But if they turn there back on justice, I'm fearful there will be pushback from those who are concerned about it. And I'm one of those who's concerned about it."
Butterfield will lead the CBC for the next two years.