Congressman Clyburn fields questions from FAMU students

Congressman Clyburn. Photo courtesy

Florida A&M’s  College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities held an online lecture Thursday with U.S. Congressman James Clyburn to discuss social justice reform. Clyburn, from South Carolina, has been a member of Congress since 1993 and has been the third ranking Democrat in the House since 2007.

Audience member Upton Fischer asked for suggestions about how the younger generation can better engage in the Congressional Black Caucus. Clyburn touched on the need for a better understanding of the proper definitions to the issues being talked about. He compared our interstates and highways to broadband internet, or the “information highway,” and he explained the importance of considering the internet as a necessity in infrastructure funding. Since the pandemic, America has seen the reality of the lack of internet access in households and how that unavailability is affecting school-age children. Due to these shortages some children are being held back a grade or having to face extreme difficulty to access the internet.

In addition, an increase in violence against women has been noticed across the nation. Occean Archbold inquired about the measures being taken to ensure the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Although it has already been reauthorized (2019-2024), Clyburn said, “Due to COVID-19 we may need to relook at that.” He added that there may need to be some new definitions added and possible expansion. Alexis McAffee expressed concerns about sustaining SSI for 2050, and Clyburn said that the current standards are a little outdated. Illustrating when SSI was originally put in place that the retiree to employment ratio was about 1:17, and now the ratio is about 1:3. However, he believes SSI will be viable in 2050.

Early education was also a topic of discussion, with questions about solutions Head Start programs in urban and rural communities. The “10-20-30” that Joe Biden has adopted, was mentioned as a possible solution to combat persistent poverty. 10-20-30 says at least 10% of all money appropriated for Head Start must go into the communities where 20% or more of the population has been at or beneath the poverty level for the last 30 years. 

2020 has literally shown us via social media and other platforms the urgent need for social reform throughout the United States. Congressman Clyburn ended his discussion by saying, “This election was an effort to restore goodness in this country.” 

The 2020 election has been called one of the most important elections of our lifetimes, setting records for the numbers of ballots cast.