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President signs into law bill proposed by FL Congresswoman for federal racial equalities commission

Sen. Marco Rubio partnered with Frederica Wilson to usher through House, Senate, Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys

A proposal from U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., to establish a federal Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys was signed into law Friday. (WPLG)

MIAMI, Fla. – On Friday, President Donald Trump signed a bipartisian bill, the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act into law, which establishes the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys within the United States Commission on Civil Rights’ Office.

In July, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelming passed the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys (S.2163), a proposal introduced in 2019 by Florida’s United States Representative Frederica Wilson (D-24th District).

Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio partnered with Wilson to usher the bill through the House and Senate earlier this year. It overwhelmingly passed the House and the Senate on July 27 and June 25, respectively.

About Friday’s signing into law, Wilson said: “It is the most important piece of civil rights legislation that Congress has passed since the Voting Rights Act. In addition, it is the first bill passed in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd and the nationwide protests sparked by that tragedy.”

During their time as state legislators in Tallahassee, Rubio and Wilson worked on a similar proposal to create the Florida Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys.

“America is more successful when its citizens have equal access to economic opportunity and prosperity, and this is particularly relevant for young black men,” Rubio said. “For too long, our nation has ignored this challenge. I am grateful for Representative Frederica Wilson, and her decades-long partnership on these critical issues, and I applaud the President for signing our bill into law.”

The Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act establishes a permanent, 19-member bipartisan commission within the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Its members will include congressional lawmakers, executive branch appointees, issue experts, activists, and other stakeholders who will examine social disparities affecting black men and boys in America.

Based on its findings, the commission will issue policy recommendations to Congress, the White House, and federal agencies. The bipartisan, bicameral Caucus on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys, which Wilson founded and co-chairs, will craft legislation to implement those recommendations.

The bill does not authorize any appropriations, and members of the Commission serve without compensation.

Wilson’s victory comes only days before her annual 5000 Role Models College Scholarship Awards Signing Ceremony. In previous years, the ceremony has been live, but this year the ceremony will be virtual with a presentation at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16.

While serving on the school board of Miami-Dade County, Wilson began a challenge to the men of Miami-Dade County to intervene in the lives of “at-risk” youth. Thus, in March 1993, initiated by the School Board of Miami-Dade County, the 500 African American Male Role Models of Excellence was born.

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, (D-Fla.) with participants in her 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project (WPLG)

In 1994, the name was changed to the 500 Role Models of Excellence Project. Given the increased enrollment of mentors and students it is now recognized as the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project.

Presently, the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project services 105 schools within Miami-Dade County Public Schools (37 Elementary, 35 Middle/K-8, and 33 Senior High). It has more than 8,000 participants, over 6,000 volunteers, and continues to grow. More than 30 components constitute the program as it teaches young boys about healthy living, responsibility, respect, and how to attain their future goals. The 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project’s Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Scholarship Breakfast provides thousands of Role Model boys with scholarship funds to further their education.

The ceremony features a celebrated guest speaker, distribution of laptop computers and the Wilson Scholars dressed in their custom-made Sean John suits and signature 5000 Role Models red neckties, receiving scholarships to attend the colleges and universities of their choice, oftentimes in the presence of the presidents from these institutions.

Watch the 5000 Role Models Scholarship ceremony, Sunday at 2 p.m. on YouTube.


About the Author:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.