By Tanu Henry, California Black Media
Last week, the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) elected Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) chair of the group comprised of African Americans serving in State Legislature.
Bradford, 60, who is the longest serving member in the caucus and the only African American member in the California Senate, is succeeding the CLBC’s outgoing chair Dr. Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego). Two weeks ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom nominated Weber for the soon-to-be open California Secretary of State position, which will be vacated by Alex Padilla. The governor appointed Padilla to replace Sen. Kamala Harris as California’s junior Senator in the United States Congress.
Bradford, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Safety and also leads the Senate’s Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color, promised to continue — and build on –Weber’s many accomplishments as head of the CLBC.
“We are grateful for Dr. Weber’s leadership during her time with the Caucus and have no doubt she will lead with the same passion and desire for equality and justice as Secretary of State. I look forward to serving in a similar fashion of Dr. Weber and previous chairs championing African American issues for the state and nation,” said Bradford, who served as vice chair of the CLBC during the last legislative session.
Bradford said Weber made significant progress passing legislation that focused on social justice, education, criminal justice reform and equity for Black Americans and other ethnic minorities in California. The CLBC, which has existed for more than 50 years now, prides itself on the influence it has had over the last half-century crafting legislature to promote racial and gender equality in California.
“With the support of my colleagues, I intend to continue and build upon the successes she achieved while serving as chair,” Bradford said, referring to Weber.
Bradford says the CLBC has identified the issues it will prioritize over the next year.
“We will be tackling issues such as the massively disproportional effect of COVID-19 on Black Californians, establishing a more transparent and accountable police system, enhancing economic opportunity through social equity programs, protecting the state’s ratepayers from unfair energy policies, supporting our formerly incarcerated with rehabilitative programs, pursuing representation in all forms of government, and so much more,” he said. “I look forward to all that we will accomplish together and remain committed to making California a more prosperous, diverse, and equitable state for all Californians.”
During Bradford’s tenure as chair, Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) will serve as vice chair; Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) will serve as secretary; and Assemblymember Jim Cooper will continue in his role as the group’s treasurer.
Bradford was first elected to the California Legislature in 2009 to represent the 51st District in Los Angeles County in the State Assembly. He served in the role until 2012 when he was elected to represent the 62nd District in the Assembly, which includes areas in the South Bay of Los Angeles County. He served in that role until 2014. In 2016, he was elected to the State Senate, representing the 35th District, which covers a section of the Los Angeles area that stretches north, beginning in inland areas of the South Bay and encompassing the communities of Carson, Compton, Gardena, Harbor City, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lennox, San Pedro, Torrance, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington.
Other members of the CLBC are: Assemblymember Chris R. Holden (D-Pasadena), Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson) and Assemblymember Autumn Burke (D-South Bay, Los Angeles).
Weber says she will continue to work with the CLBC in her new role as Secretary of State.
“It is a bittersweet moment as I pass the leadership torch to Senator Steven Bradford. The California Legislative Black Caucus is a small but mighty group of nine members. Together, we have been a powerful force, united and unwavering in our commitment to fight and win tough battles to improve the lives of Black Californians,” Weber said. “I thank the Black Caucus for its support during my tenure as chair, and I have full trust and confidence in Senator Bradford to take on the leadership of the Caucus. I also look forward to building on the partnership between the Secretary of State’s office and the CLBC to protect and expand voting rights in California.”