IIEL Celebrates Black History Month, Honors New Members of Congressional Black Caucus

February 22, 2017 —

Since the year 1789, more than 12,000 people have served in the U.S. Congress — yet less than 200 African Americans have been elected to Congress since 1870, noted Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) at a reception at Georgetown Law to honor new members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and celebrate Black History Month. The February 15 event was hosted by Georgetown’s Institute of International Economic Law (IIEL) and Financial Services Professionals (FSP).

“Whether our families came here generations ago under duress and threat and enslavement, or whether our families came here just last year voluntarily [with] free will…we have made this country great…” Brown said. “We are committed as members of the CBC to work together on behalf of our community, because we understand that there is a lot to lose, and there is even more that we have to do.”  

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) spoke of her membership on the House Education and the Workforce, and Agriculture committees. “There’s nothing more important right now as we look toward the future than the education of our children, of those who are in jobs now who need more skills,” she said. “As we look to the future, I’m happy to be on that committee.” 

Blunt Rochester displayed a scarf printed with the image of an historic document that allowed her great-great grandfather to vote. “I carry this with me…to remember how far we have come,” she said. “A lot of people would have us believe that we are going back, or that we should feel fear. I don’t feel that way…when we step out on to that floor, I want you to know that hope is still alive. We represent that, we are the sequel.” 

 Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) said she was honored to serve in Congress. “When we talk about the American Dream, I stand before you as an American Dream realized,” she said.

And although we don’t know what the future may hold in the current political environment, she said, “what I am very confident of is that we have the right people, the right talent, the right heart and the passion to solve some of the greatest problems and issues that we may face…my glass is still half full.”

History Makers

Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI0)(F’88), a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) also spoke at the event, attended by nearly 200 students, alumni and leading regulators from across the government. Guests included representatives from Georgetown's Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and IIEL Fellows.

IIEL Director of Programs & External Affairs Christine Washington (F’91); De’Ana Dow (L’81), a partner and general counsel with Capitol Counsel and FSP board leader; and Ernie Jolly, legislative director at the U.S. House of Representatives, helped with the introductions.

Dean William M. Treanor welcomed the guests, which included Professor Alicia Plerhoples; Professor Paul Butler; Visiting Professor Justin Hansford; Adjunct Professor and former Assistant Dean Everett Bellamy; Judith Perez Caro, director of Equity, Community and Inclusion; and Scott Fleming, associate vice president for Federal Relations at Georgetown University. 

Professor Chris Brummer, faculty director of IIEL, called the evening an opportunity to encourage communications and honor “our future history makers.”

“Right now in our country is a conversation about economics, about regulation, and about how these things are supposed to fit in our community…” Brummer said. “These kinds of conversations can be quite difficult, and it requires you — along with folks from the academy, the regulatory community, from the private sector — to help develop a narrative and to help explain in clear terms what you are doing, and what the debate down the street is about…. Many of you have seats around very, very important tables, and it’s important that we take the opportunity to…talk to one another.”