African American Mayors Association Statement on the Deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile


African American Mayors Association Statement on the Deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile


(Washington, DC), On behalf of the 500 African American mayors across the country, Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, MO and President of the African American Mayors Association, released the following statement in response to the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile:


“Alton Sterling was a father of five and husband. Philando Castile was a beloved son.  But, most of all, both of these men were human beings, and Americans, whose lives were cut short. Any time someone dies violently and a family member is lost, it is a tragedy and our hearts and minds go out to the family.


From Baltimore to Baton Rouge to Falcon Heights, mayors are at the forefront of working with police officials to ensure transparency in cases involving police shootings and call for thorough investigation and the earliest possible release of information. The African American Mayors Association commends the U.S. Department of Justice for its swift decision to launch a civil rights investigation into the Alton Sterling case, and hopes that similar, swift action is also taken in the Philando Castile case.  We offer our support to the Mayors of Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights as they lead their cities through this challenging time.


The African American Mayors Association is committed to improving communication and trust between law enforcement and the citizens they are meant to serve and protect. We are likewise committed to police officer training on methods of de-escalation and disengagement for situations where the use of deadly force is unwarranted. We will continue this work, more committed than ever, to make our towns and cities safe for everyone.”

Coalition of Black Mayors Applauds Supreme Court for Affirming Women’s Right to Make Their Own Health Decisions

Coalition of Black Mayors Applauds Supreme Court for Affirming Womens Right to Make Their Own Health Decisions

(Washington, DC), On behalf of the 500 African American mayors across the country, Mayor Vivian Covington, University Park, IL and Chairwomen of the African American Mayors Association’s Women Mayors Committee, released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion rights this week:

“The African American Mayors Association applauds the Supreme Court for reaffirming the constitutional right to safe and legal abortion in their Whole Womens Health v. Hellerstedt decision. Whether they live in a bustling urban center or far-off rural town, women’s ability to exercise that right must be unconditional. This is especially true for the millions of African American women who live in our cities and the families that love and depend on them. While women with means have the ability to get health care when and where they need it, many of our citizens face disadvantages that lead to second class care.  Everyone deserves access to reproductive healthcare, no matter their zip code. This week, the Supreme Court has ensured that, unequivocally.”

Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, MO and President of the African American Mayors Association, added the following:

“Although the Whole Womens Health decision was a majority, cases like these remind us what’s at stake for the American people. It is an unavoidable reality that the decisions the Supreme Court makes, impacts the healthcare and reproductive freedom of millions. For more than 100 days, that Court has not operated at full capacity. That is simply unacceptable. Therefore, in the wake of this week’s case, the African American Mayors Association once again calls on Congress to stop gambling with the fate of American citizens, #DoYourJob, and confirm Judge Merrick Garland.”


Newark, NJ –- June 13, 2016 — Mayor Ras J. Baraka and the City of Newark’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Commission will hold a vigil in honor of the victims of yesterday morning’s mass shooting in Orlando, tonight, Monday, June 13, at 6 p.m., on the front steps of City Hall, located at 920 Broad Street.


49 people were killed and at least 53 wounded by a shooter in an Orlando nightclub frequented by that City’s gay community early yesterday morning. The shooter was killed by police. The incident was the largest mass shooting in American history. According to investigators, the suspected shooter had declared allegiance to ISIS, suffered from mental issues, but was still able to acquire an AR-15 assault rifle, which he apparently used in the massacre.


Mayor Baraka issued an attached statement denouncing the shooting for its violence, and assailed bigotry, homophobia, gun violence, and the accessibility of assault rifles to unstable and dangerous people. He called upon residents to join in the vigil.


In addition to the vigil, flags at City Hall are to be flown at half-mast today in solidarity with the rest of the country.


Who:               Mayor Ras J. Baraka

                        City of Newark LGBTQ Commission


What:             Will hold a vigil to honor the victims of yesterday morning’s mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.


When:             Monday, June 13

6 p.m.


Where:           City Hall Front Steps

                        920 Broad Street



MEDIA NOTES: Media parking will be available in streets and lots in the neighborhood.


For more information, contact the Press Information Office – (973) 733-8004.





For more information on the City of Newark, please visit our website at


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Tonight, with the support of our LGBTQ Commission, the City of Newark and its diverse and united people will respond with love and prayer for the victims in Orlando by holding a vigil on the steps of City Hall. I urge all of Newark to join me at this vigil in sending our condolences and support to the victims, and a firm message to the world: Newark stands opposed to gun violence, homophobia, and bigotry.

“Early yesterday morning this nation saw one of the bloodiest mass shooting incidents in American history, which has left 50 dead, many more gravely wounded, families devastated, and a country in shock again. This ghastly horror is the result of many things – bigotry, the accessibility of assault rifles to unstable and dangerous people, homophobia, and appalling divisions and splinterings in our country that are making it impossible to reach unity. The result is pain and suffering, all of it utterly unnecessary and preventable.

“How many more lives must be needlessly lost before Congress takes action to impose even the most basic, common sense, and bipartisan reforms on the sale and distribution of guns? I call upon the Congress to respond to this horror with actions, not words, with legislation, not rhetoric. When will enough truly be enough? I have ordered the flags at Newark City Hall to be flown at half-mast in solidarity with the rest of the country.”


–          NEWARK –


Washington, D.C. (June 13, 2016) — The African American Mayors Association (AAMA) joins the nation in mourning yesterday’s tragic mass shooting at the Orlando, Florida Pulse nightclub which claimed at least fifty lives.

The tragedy took place during LGBT Pride Month, which commemorates the successes and  struggles of LGBT Americans. America’s mayors have been at the forefront of advancing LGBT rights, enacting LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances and human rights laws decades before legal protections were established at the state or federal level. Even today, as multiple states seek to turn back the clock on recent US Supreme Court decisions advancing LGBT equality, mayors continue to lead the fight to uphold the dignity of all residents.

According to press reports, the shooter in yesterday’s tragedy was able to acquire a military-grade firearm despite numerous red flags in his background. While solutions for confronting gun violence will vary, AAMA mayors are united in their resolve for action to eliminate senseless gun violence deaths.

Our mayors are actively responding to the Orlando tragedy in their communities. AAMA President Sly James (Kansas City, MO) has declared today a “Rainbow Day” in his city, urging Kansas City residents to wear rainbows and illuminating many local landmarks in rainbow colors in solidarity with the victims. In a local press interview, he further noted:  “I don’t care how you look at it, slice it or dice it, weapons [are] in the hands of idiots, haters, bigots and fools. People will die. We have to stop it.”



CBC Chairman G. K. Butterfield Introduces Resolution Honoring the Life and Legacy of Muhammad Ali

CBC Chairman G. K. Butterfield Introduces Resolution Honoring the Life and Legacy of Muhammad Ali
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On yesterday, June 7, 2016, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) introduced a resolution honoring the life and legacy of Muhammad Ali:
“Muhammad Ali, who was referred to as ‘‘The Greatest of All Time,’’ was not only a champion in the boxing ring, but a champion of human and civil rights who, during a difficult time in American history, stood on principle to end racism and bigotry.  More than a boxing legend, Mr. Ali was a humanitarian of the world and his talents transcended the ring into the global community where he selflessly put the interests of helping others above his own.  He was a great American, the greatest among athletes of his time and a true champion for humanity.  I join my House colleagues to honor the extraordinary life, accomplishments, and countless contributions to humanity made by the incomparable Muhammad Ali.
Click here to view text of the resolution in its entirety. 
# # #
Since its establishment in 1971, Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) have joined together to empower America’s neglected citizens and address their legislative concerns.  For more than 40 years, the CBC has consistently been the voice for people of color and vulnerable communities in Congress and has been committed to utilizing the full Constitutional power and statutory authority of the United States government to ensure that all U.S. citizens have an opportunity to achieve the American Dream.  To learn more about the Congressional Black Caucus, visit
Media inquiries: Candace Randle Person at (202) 593-1331or

U.S. Labor Department announces availability of $80M in grants to provide job, leadership skills among disadvantaged youth

U.S. Labor Department announces availability of $80M in grants to provide job, leadership skills among disadvantaged youth
YouthBuild programs help fill educational gaps to drive career success


Today, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the availability of $80 million in grant funding to support and expand YouthBuild programs nationwide. For those programs that offer the “YouthBuild Construction Plus” model, participating youth can take advantage of expanded occupational skills training in additional in-demand occupations, such as health care, information technology or logistics.


Grants awarded through this funding opportunity will range from $700,000 to $1.1 million each to about 80 organizations to provide education and employment services to disadvantaged youth in their communities.


This year’s funding availability completes implementation of the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act by incorporating the requirements of WIOA performance measures. Additional important changes to the program this year include:

–        The inclusion of priority consideration points for applicants in a federally-designated Promise Zone.

–        A clarification to the classification of “Category A” and “Category B” applicants to allow applicants that have previously received DOL YouthBuild funds, but not since 2009 or earlier, to be considered as new applicants.

–        The use of zip codes to identify target community service areas.

–        The requirement of key personnel, including a job developer.


YouthBuild is a non-residential, community-based alternative education program that provides classroom instruction and occupational skills training in construction and other in-demand occupations to at-risk youth and young adults from ages 16 to 24. Participants learn valuable skills as they build or rehabilitate housing for low-income or homeless individuals and families in their communities.


The goal of this grant also aligns closely with President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative which seeks to close opportunity gaps still faced by too many young people and often by boys and young men of color.

For additional information on grant eligibility and how to apply for funds, visit If you have any questions or are interested in additional information, please email Eduardo Cisneros  




Contact: Donald Gatlin,, 202-587-2871


Mayors Will Address Intractable Policy Challenges Facing Municipalities

WASHINGTON, DC— Over 150 participants including African American Mayors, Members of Congress, and Administration officials convened at the African American Mayors Association Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. last week, to discuss and develop solutions to a variety of intractable policy challenges facing the nation’s cities. The African American Mayors Association (AAMA) is the only organization exclusively representing the over 500 African-American mayors across the United States.

Kansas City Mayor, Sly James, was sworn-in as the new AAMA President on Friday. He said, “We must keep our citizens safe by taking guns out of the hands of those who commit crimes; support civil rights laws that treat all members of our communities with fairness and dignity; provide access to early childhood education that ensures all children are able to read at grade level; and embrace technology as a driving force in our communities.”

At this year’s conference, the Mayors committed to fierce advocacy for the passage of a federal criminal justice reform bill to create local programs to support citizens reentering their communities from the criminal justice system, and to dedicate resources to improving the relationship between citizens and law enforcement. The Mayors also met with officials at The White House to discuss the advancement of the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative; the obstruction of Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court; and to advocate for improvements in the federal process for ensuring that resources for disaster relief more quickly and effectively reach the communities they are intended to serve.

The conference theme, “The Urgency of Now”, is a reflection on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s description of our nation’s tumultuous socio-political environment at the time that he delivered his “I have a Dream” speech in 1963, and a recognition that the need for change in African American communities remains urgent over 50 years later.

U.S. Secretary of Education, John B. King; Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC); Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO); and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Gina McCarthy, were among a host of other high-level federal officials who participated in the conference this year. Conference sessions focused on addressing the overrepresentation of African Americans in the criminal justice system; the degradation of the educational system in African American communities; the alarming rates at which African Americans suffer community violence; and addressed ways in which cities can partner with the private sector to provide jobs and resources to their communities.

“We have great momentum and I will pursue many of the priorities we advanced during the past year,” said Mayor James. “Criminal justice reform will remain a primary legislative priority for AAMA, and I will be a tireless advocate for sentencing reform and other criminal justice measures that are supported by facts, fairness and reality.”

About AAMA

The African American Mayors Association (AAMA) is the only organization exclusively representing over 500 African-American mayors across the United States. AAMA seeks to empower local leaders for the benefit of their citizens. The role of the AAMA includes taking positions on public policies that impact the vitality and sustainability of cities; providing mayors with leadership and management tools; and creating a forum for member mayors to share best practices related to municipal management.

2016 Annual Conference Agenda

Thursday, April 21
10:30am – 12:00pm Conference Registration
12:00pm – 1:30pm Welcome Lunch Sponsored by AT&T
1:30pm- 2:15pm Plenary Session 1: Education
2:15pm – 3:00pm Plenary Session 2: Job Creation and Public-Private Partnerships
3:00pm – 3:15pm Break
3:00pm – 3:15pm Nominating Committee Meeting
3:15pm – 4:00pm Workshop 1: City Resource Center
3:15pm – 4:00pm Workshop 2: Ballard Spahr LLP
4:00pm – 4:45pm Workshop 3: Senior Mayors Forum
4:00pm – 4:45pm Workshop 4: NLC Education
4:45pm – 5:30pm Workshop 5: Cities United
4:45pm – 5:30pm Workshop 6: Reentering Citizens
5:30pm – 6:00pm Annual Meeting
6:30pm- 7:30pm Women Mayor’s Committee Reception – Aetna
7:30pm – 9:00pm AAMA Keynote Dinner and Awards Reception by Waste Management


Friday, April 22
7:00am – 8:00am Breakfast for Conference Attendees
7:00am-8:00am Business Council Breakfast (Invited Guests Only)
8:15am – 11:45am White House Visit (Registered Mayors Only)
12:30pm-2:00pm Closing Luncheon and Gavel Ceremony by Casey Family Programs

African American Mayors Commend President Obama’s SCOTUS Nomination of Judge Garland

African American Mayors across the country commended President Obama for the prompt nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland to the United States Supreme Court.

Mayor Steve Benjamin (Columbia, SC)

“Judge Merrick Garland is an eminently qualified nominee for the Supreme Court. As Chief Judge for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Judge Garland has earned bipartisan recognition for his commitment to carefully interpreting the law.  The interests of justice cannot wait – the US Senate must do its Constitutional duty and promptly consider and vote upon Judge Garland’s nomination.”

Mayor Michael Hancock (Denver, CO)

“The people have had their say on who should nominate Justices, and twice they have chosen President Barack Obama. The President has fulfilled his constitutional duty by nominating Judge Merrick Garland, an accomplished jurist, to the Supreme Court, and I commend him on his pick. It’s time for the Senate to do its job, too. As elected officials, we take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, and there is no excuse for abandoning that responsibility to play politics. Judge Garland deserves a hearing and a vote, and I call on the Senate to fulfill its duty.”

Mayor William Bell (Durham, NC)

“As Mayor of Durham NC, I first want to commend President Obama in exercising his Presidential responsibilities in nominating a very qualified and respected Judge to our US Supreme Court. Judge Merrick B. Garland’s service and experience as a jurist are impeccable and he deserves the opportunity and honor of being given a hearing by our U.S. Senate. As a minimum the citizens and voters of our country deserve the opportunity to hear firsthand from the nominee and his responses to the Senate committee and a vote on his nomination.

I would, in general urge all of our US Senators to be supportive of a hearing of this nominee and in particular our North Carolina Senate representative (Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis) to be supportive of a Senate committee hearing for the nominee and hopefully a vote in favor of his confirmation.”

Mayor Mario Avery (Fairburn, GA)
“The President’s nominee should be voted on by the U.S. Senate, especially with 61% of the U.S. citizens polled supporting his candidate.

Judge Garland has demonstrated his ability to assess environmental concerns by dissecting governmental enforcement policy that lacked adequate inspection. During the case “American Farm Bureau Federation vs. EPA” Judge Garland struck down the EPA’s case due to insufficient clarity of why the agency adopted a less stringent standard than what was recommended by studies. The case found that Garland had interpreted the Clean Air Act to maximize environmental protection. Fairburn has acquired three major corporations since 2012, totaling 3 million square feet of commercial space, that have constructed facilities subject to guidelines outlined in the Clean Air Act. I’m convinced that Judge Garland’s assessment of EPA policies will continue to benefit the City of Fairburn as it relates to clean air.

I reiterate that Judge Garland is not only well respected, by both republicans and democrats, but highly qualified to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Mayor Michael Wolfe, Sr. (Hempstead, TX)

“I am in full support of President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland for U.S. Supreme Court.”

Mayor Sly James (Kansas City, MO)

“Chief Judge Merrick Garland has extensive judicial experience, a knack for building consensus and a fearless record of taking on the hardest cases. When he was nominated to the D.C. Circuit Court, both Republican and Democrat senators praised him and called eminently qualified. Failure to meet with him and consider his nomination to the Supreme Court is the basest form of political gamesmanship. A man of Judge Merrick’s caliber and qualifications should be treated fairly and given real consideration for this position.”

Mayor Adrian Mapp (Plainfield, NJ)

“I affirm my strong support of President Obama’s pick of Merrick Garland to serve as a representative of the US Supreme Court. It is not only the right of the President to nominate a replacement; it is his duty to do so, and Merrick Garland is unquestionably qualified to hold the position.

The Justice System should not be held hostage to bipartisan politics and the US Senate should not decide when it is convenient for them to fulfill their constitutional duties, and when it is not. To do anything other than consider and vote on the President’s nominee to the Supreme Court will be a huge failure to do their job and abandonment of their service to the American people.”

Mayor Lovely Warren (Rochester, NY)

“The United States Supreme Court has been the ultimate arbiter of landmark civil rights, human rights, fairness, voter access, and First Amendment Issues for our nation from its very founding,” said Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren.  “At a time when so many Americans have become disenfranchised, we cannot allow our highest court to be mired in indecision by a long-term vacancy.  President Obama has fulfilled his Constitutional obligation to nominate a well-respected and qualified candidate in Merrick Garland.  It is now time for the Senate to fulfill their Constitutional obligation and give this important nomination their consideration and an up or down vote.”

Mayor Kevin Johnson (Sacramento, CA)

“Chief Judge Merrick Garland has a reputation of being one of the best appellate judges in the country and has a proven track record of building consensus. Garland has been a meticulous jurist and a straight shooter which has earned him strong bipartisan support throughout his career.

President Obama has done his part to fulfill his constitutional responsibility by nominating a highly qualified candidate to the Supreme Court. Now, I call upon the Senate to fulfill their duty and provide Chief Judge Merrick Garland a fair hearing.”

Mayor George Evans (Selma, AL)

“President Obama stated in his 2008 campaign, ‘Washington is broken. Working together, we can end the partisan bickering’ The White House noted that the last time the Senate refused to vote on a president’s Supreme Court nominee was in 1875 — and that ‘one-third of all previous U.S. presidents have had a nominee confirmed to the Supreme Court in an election year.’

Let us not go backwards and repeat the mistakes of the past. Judge Merrick Garland is an extremely qualified nominee for the Supreme Court.  The president has fulfilled his constitutional duty of nominating Judge Merrick B. Garland to the United States Supreme Court.

I employ you as our Senate to fulfill your duty and expeditiously hold a fair confirmation hearing of President Obama’s nominee and to hold an up or down vote.”

Mayor Marilyn Strickland (Tacoma, WA)

“The fair hearing and confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice nominee is one of the most important duties of the United States Senate. The public weighed in on this decision in 2012 when they re-elected President Obama. The sitting justices have been appointed within 50-99 days and Judge Garland has a history of receiving bi-partisan support. It’s time to stop making excuses, set aside partisan gamesmanship and get on with honorably handling the people’s business.”

Mayor Vivian Covington (University Park, IL)

“I applaud our President for his nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland to the United States Supreme Court.  This is the choice of our President and I respect and support him that this is the best person for the position.”

Mayor Muriel Bowser (Washington, DC)

“As chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Judge Garland has served ably here in the District of Columbia, and has earned respect that transcends party and politics. I stand with the President, and I urge the Congress to move Judge Garland forward through a fair and judicious process. Just like the residents of the District of Columbia, Judge Garland deserves a vote in the Congress.”


Statement on Nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland to US Supreme Court

Washington, D.C. (March 16, 2016) – The African American Mayors Association (AAMA) today commended President Obama for the prompt nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland to the United States Supreme Court.  AAMA President Mayor Steve Benjamin (Columbia, SC) issued the following statement:

“Judge Merrick Garland is an eminently qualified nominee for the Supreme Court. As Chief Judge for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Judge Garland has earned bipartisan recognition for his commitment to carefully interpreting the law.  The interests of justice cannot wait – the US Senate must do its Constitutional duty and promptly consider and vote upon Judge Garland’s nomination.”

Media Contact: Everton Morris, AAMA Deputy Executive Director,