U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee
U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee

WASHINGTON – Amid criticisms that President Obama’s new administration seems to be dominated by White men, the new chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus has offered some diversity-boosting suggestions.

In a letter sent to the White House, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) asked the president to consider Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) for the position of Secretary of Commerce and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) to fill the post vacated by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis on Jan. 9.

“Both Melvin Watt and Barbara Lee have served the American people in the United States House of Representatives and the citizens of their respective Congressional districts with distinction… [and] are exceptionally well-qualified, proven candidates,” Fudge wrote in her letter.

Watt, a former CBC chairman, has served in Congress since 1993. As an attorney, he specialized in minority business development law and was a partner in several small enterprises.

Lee has served California’s 9th Congressional District since 1998. Also a former CBC chair, she has been a persistently progressive voice on Capitol Hill, advocating against the United States’ involvement in the Iraq War and championing issues such as labor and minority health.

“While I’m honored by my colleagues’ unsolicited recommendation, my focus remains the 13th Congressional District. If the President were to ask me to join his Cabinet, I would of course have to give that very serious consideration,” Lee told The San Francisco Chronicle.
By Zenitha Prince
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), known as the Black Press of America, is the federation of more than 200 Black community newspapers in the United States.