Justice for Americans of color does not end with overhauling our criminal justice system – we need holistic, system-wide approaches to materially improving the lives of Black, Brown, indigenous and immigrant adults, children, and families, as well as beginning to fully confront and address the history of racism in this country and the ways in which it manifests today.
Congressman Connolly has been continuing his commitment to advancing racial, social and economic justice by listening to his colleagues of color and supporting their ambitious and progressive legislation, including:
- Being an original co-sponsor of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which ends qualified immunity for police officers,and which Gerry amended to ensure that all funds paid by the Department of Justice’s civil assets forfeiture equitable sharing program be redirected to public welfare. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed the House in March. You can see more details on the criminal justice reforms Congressman Connolly has helped pursue here.
- Being an original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, a transformative piece of legislation that aims to end human made climate change and greenhouse gas emissions by investing in correcting the years of economic, environmental and racial injustices this country is built on, and ensuring everyone has access to clean energy, air, water and healthy food. Additionally, Gerry helped introduce the Green New Deal for Cities, Counties, States, Tribes, and Territories which invests in local communities to ensure they have the resources to address climate change, and that their environmental justice centers equity, racial justice, and working people.
- The Environmental Justice Mapping and Data Collection Act would ensure the EPA collects and shares data on the communities that experience or are at risk of adverse environmental and health conditions, which are predominantly communities of color, indigenous and low-income communities. Gerry has been advocating for environmental justice since he was Supervisor, and was awarded the Protector of the Potomac award in 2016 for his advocacy against coal ash waste and water pollution that largely affected Black communities following the closure of the Possum Point power plant.
- The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 addresses the unconscionable rate of death for mothers in the United States – the highest in the developing world – which is 3 to 4 times higher for Black mothers and almost 2 times as high for Native American and Hispanic mothers, by making essential investments in the social determinants of health like housing and nutrition, as well as community-based organizations and maternal mental health, amongst other critical services.
- The Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act, a long overdue opportunity to confront the history of our nation founded on the enslavement, exploitation and disenfranchisement of Black people, and the continued legacy of slavery and racism in the United States, as well as exploring ways in which we can begin to compensate, rehabilitate and restitute those descended from this history.
- Statehood for the people of Washington, DC, a racist injustice that has deprived the more than 700,000 citizens of our nation’s capital voting representation in Congress since its creation. DC is a historically Black city where Black people make up 47% of the population, and granting them a voice would go a long way in correcting this historic wrong and beginning to rebalance a political system that already gives White voters a disproportionate influence in our democracy.
- Finally enshrine Juneteenth National Independence Day as a federal holiday to commemorate the emancipation of Black Americans from slavery at the end of the Civil War.
- Consistently supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions here in Virginia and across the country, including support of the FUTURES Act which became law in 2019 and ensured $255 million in annual federal funding for HBCUs, as well as an increase in Pell Grant funding and streamlining of FAFSA student loan applications.
This country has a long way to go to ensure racial, social, and economic justice for all Americans, especially Black people. Congressman Connolly has been and always will be committed to pursuing equity and justice for all, and will continue to advance legislation that enshrines those values into law.