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The NEA Black Caucus was organized at the San Francisco NEA Convention in 1970. Luari Wynn of Wisconsin was the first chairperson. The founders of the Caucus felt that Black members of many predominantly white institutions must occasionally come together to define themselves and get their collective act together. The founders also felt that Black people must not and cannot depend on others to see that their views are properly aired. They knew then, as they know now, that if change to meet their needs is going to occur, they, themselves, must design (at least in part) a vehicle that will provide communication and action.
This communication and action, they felt, must be people based as opposed to person based. This was the first of many “comings together” of Black educators during NEA conventions and other NEA-sponsored events to make an impact on the NEA as it addressed the unique concerns of Blacks and other Third World educators and students.The Black Caucus welcomes all NEA members who share the Black experience. It collects no dues per se, but depends on voluntary contributions, sales of buttons, and other fund-raising techniques.
In addition to defining itself and electing leadership, the Black Caucus initiated its first interviewing of candidates for NEA office at the San Francisco Convention. Candidate for president-elect, Don Morrison, promised those functioning minority caucuses, that, if elected, he would initiate a program to bring more minorities into the mainstream of NEA activity. Candidate Morrison gained support in the caucus and won the election.
At the 1971 NEA convention held in Detroit, President Helen Bain and President-Elect Don Morrison were greeted by demands of the Black Caucus: The establishment of a Black communications network; training programs established to recruit Black and other minority educators for positions of NEA leadership; an NEA-funded pre-convention session for minority delegates; and the distribution of announcements of all professional and managerial staff opening to the Black network. President Morrison responded by generating $100,000 in the program budget to establish the Minority Involvement Program and by completing a system of appointing Black and other minorities to every NEA committee. President Morrison’s immediate predecessor initiated this system.
Following the Detroit Convention, the NEA Black Caucus established itself at ConCon in Fort Collins and led the fight to establish minority guarantees in the new NEA constitution. At subsequent conventions, the NEA Black Caucus led the fight to see that minority guarantees were passed and later protected from an annual proliferation of amendments designed to weaken or eliminate those guarantees. The Caucus has continued its program of interviewing and endorsing candidates who are sensitive to Black and other minority issues.
Despite the differences in leadership styles, the Caucus leaders have remained united on goals, objectives and focus. The Caucus has members in every state in the nation and has expended its contacts to other Black organizations, including the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, the Con-gressional Black Caucus, the National Alliance of Black School Educators, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Social Change, as well as with occasional ad hoc groups.