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Top U. S. Senate staff has few Blacks

NNPA-TOPTop U. S. Senate staff has few Blacks

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from

By Frederick H. Lowe

( – The U.S. Senate has been called the world’s greatest deliberative body, but it’s not very diverse and neither is its top senate staff when it comes to African-Americans, according to a report published by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Stu-dies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank for Black elected officials.

The 30-page study, titled “Racial Diversity among Top Senate Staff,” reports that of the 336 top senate staffers—chiefs of staff, legislative directors and communications directors in the Washington, D.C., personnel office of U.S. Senators and staff directors assigned to committees—only three African-Americans hold any one of these 336 top positions, only 0.8 percent, although Blacks comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population, according to the report.

Spencer Overton, president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, said U.S. Senate staff positions are key because they have role in shaping issues like federal budgets, education, workforce, immigration, sentencing, federal confirmations and countless other matters.

The study reported there are one Black chief of staff, zero legislative directors, and one communications director out of 297 positions in the 114th Congress. Whites control 276 of the 297 positions.

The study notes that African-Americans represent from 17 percent to almost 28 percent of the populations of Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, yet Blacks hold only 1.7 percent of the top total staff positions in these states’ U.S. Senate offices.

Blacks hold one position in South Carolina, which has two Republican U.S. Senators—Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham– the report said.

Incidentally, members of the U. S. Senate also lack in diversity. Currently the Senate has three Blacks out of 100 senators – more than ever before in history at any one time. Previously, there were six Black U. S. senators to have served; totaling only nine throughout history.

The report only focused on top Senate staff in Washington, D.C., although some Senators employ Blacks as home-state directors.

A decade ago, Diversity Inc. declared the Senate the worst employer for diversity hiring, even worse than the nation’s 50 largest corporations.

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