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Congressional Committee Aims To Tackle Issues Plaguing Black Men

MIAMI (CBS4) - A bipartisan commission created by Congress to address disparities that plague Black males made history Tuesday.

"This is a population that we have to pay attention to," said Rep. Frederica Wilson, referring to Black men and boys.

After more than 20 years of pushing for help for what she calls a marginalized group, a bipartisan effort led by Sen. Marco Rubio in the Senate and Wilson in the House emerged to create a commission to address the disparities that plague Black males became law.

"Never in the history of our nation has Congress ever addressed the disparities for a Black man and boys, never," reiterated Wilson.

The Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act met Tuesday for the first time, and the group voted to conduct a systematic study into the causes of the disparities plaguing Black males.

"Black men only represent 13 percent of the population yet they're almost 60 percent of the prison population. We are going to be addressing healthcare disparities, most black men don't even live to collect their Social Security, they're dead," said Wilson.

The commission is made up of those appointed by Congress and members of the National Black Caucus, like U.S Rep. Lucy McBath whose son was killed at a gas station for playing his music too loud.

"I lost my son Jordan unnecessarily in Jacksonville, Florida in 2012. I believed that Jordon's father and I had done everything right but at the end of the day, he was a young Black man and I still feel the injustice every single day of my life," said McBath.

Jack Brewer, a Miami resident and a member of the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act, echoed the importance of the work they are embarking upon. 

"We have to start really rehabilitating our young boys because that's what they need, whether it's in prison or in schools, if they're living out of there without being able to read and write, we're not giving them a chance," said Brewer.

The group vows to not take too long to find the causes of the disparities and to help create policies to address them.  Wilson said part of that will be expanding her 5000 Role Models Excellence Project into a national initiative aimed at dropout prevention and mentoring to close the minority male achievement gap.

"It's going to be rough but I'm up to the challenge. I'm a fighter and I've been fighting all of my life and I've been waiting for this moment, that this becomes a national issue," she said.

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