Congressional Black Caucus
Archita Taylor is a rising 3L and is working as a legal fellow with the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC this summer. The CBC brings its members together to form a united voice and a voting block on a range of issues, including the economy, health care, and voting rights. Since this is an election year, the CBC is focused heavily on voter protection. As a result, Archita has done a great deal of research and writing on this subject matter, including looking into the various state voting laws, specifically the ones requiring photo identification to register to vote or cast a ballot. Archita is very interested in the intersection of law and policy, and is glad to have the opportunity this summer to get experience in this area. Upon graduating from law school, Archita would like to work for the federal government in one of a few different issue areas: immigration, health care, or voting rights. Archita is honored to be a PILF grant recipient this summer, and she looks forward to working with PILF over the course of this year.
June 25, 2012
The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is one of the oldest and largest institutions on Capitol Hill and its members are some of the most well-respected and powerful members of Congress. The CBC has had a long tradition of representing the interests of Americans whose interests are so often overlooked in Congress. As such, the CBC has earned the moniker "the conscious of Congress." I was lucky enough to be selected as a legal fellow for the CBC through the law school's SU in DC Program this summer. This incredible opportunity has allowed me to work alongside some of the most talented and dedicated staffers on Capitol Hill. I have been lucky enough to have the leniency to independently take on projects that I am interested in. The CBC's focus on voting rights in this election year has presented me with the perfect opportunity to work on this issue that I am so passionate about.
The right to vote is one of the most fundamental rights of American citizens, and with the many new restrictive voting laws that have been introduced and passed into law in state legislatures throughout the country, this fundamental right is in jeopardy. In this same vein, the CBC hosted the Faith Leaders Summit on May 30, 2012, which focused on this critical issue of voting rights. The Faith Leaders Summit brought together leaders in faith communities to learn about ways to inform their congregations about the voting laws in their states, and to ensure that their members register to vote in time. The Faith Leaders Summit brought together these individuals, along with the CBC members, and leaders in our government (including the Attorney General), to raise awareness and promote education about this issue.
I started my fellowship with the CBC not quite knowing what to expect and wondering how I would find my place in such an established and well-known organization. My experience so far this summer, and particularly having the opportunity to attend the Faith Leaders Summit, has taught me that taking initiative and demonstrating a passion for something goes a long way in public sector work, especially in the government. I look forward to seeing what other exciting opportunities I will have this summer.
July 22, 2012
As I close out my last few weeks at the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), I am appreciative of this opportunity to reflect on the work that I have done this summer. Looking back over the last two months, I realize how much I have seen and the many opportunities I have had to learn, observe, and grow. I have been fortunate enough to work on many exciting assignments, sit in on some interesting events, and work alongside my supervisors on important policy issues.
Most notably, on June 28, 2012, the GOP-led majority in the House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. This was the first time that a cabinet member has ever been held in contempt of Congress, and the politicking that led to this vote in the House was a serious distraction from other important work that needed to be accomplished in Congress. As a result, over a hundred members of the House of Representatives, led by the efforts of the CBC, staged a walk out during the contempt vote. Rather than participate in the partisan contempt vote, these members, led by Chairman Emanuel Cleaver and the members of the CBC, went to the steps of the Capitol Building to talk about the issues that really matter: jobs and the economy. I was lucky enough to participate in the planning and organizing that led up to the walk out, as well as during the contempt vote and walk out.
Over the last several weeks, I have also had the opportunity to write several policy memos and briefs on a variety of issues, but particularly focused on economic and budget issues. In the process I was required to research proposed and enacted legislation and write on its impacts on Americans. My memoranda reached not only my immediate supervisors within the Caucus, but also the chairman of the Caucus, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, as well as the staff of the other Members of the Caucus.
I have also continued to conduct research and writing on voter protection issues, as the CBC is still very much focused on this critical issue through this upcoming election. I have also had the opportunity to attend several events - including a couple of CBC Member meetings, a CBC luncheon, and an event hosted by the Center for American Progress (CAP) about minority women in politics and policy at which my supervisor, Angela Rye, was a panelist.
All in all, this summer has been an incredible learning experience for me. I have had the opportunity to meet some of the most talented and brilliant staffers on Capitol Hill, and in turn, I have also had the opportunity to work on interesting and engaging projects involving both law and policy. I am lucky to have been a legal fellow with the CBC this summer, and look forward to applying the things I have learned here in my future work.