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California’s Public Policy Playback: News You Might Have Missed

Tanu Henry, Antonio Ray Harvey and Joe W. Bowers Jr. | California Black Media 

Black Caucus and Women Caucus Host Sacramento Screening of “Respect My Crown”

On March 12, the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) and the Legislative Women’s Caucus partnered to host a screening of the documentary “Respect My Crown: The Rise of African American Women in California Politics.”

The event, held at the Crest Theater in downtown Sacramento, was followed by a Q&A with the film’s director, Pamela Bright-Moon, and its producer, Alisa Covington.

Assemblymember Tina McKinnor (D-Inglewood) was one of the organizers of the event co-created with the California Black Women’s Collective Institute.

“It was about celebrating and uplifting women for Women’s History Month,” said McKinnor, a member of CLBC. “(This film) itself is powerful and dynamic. It really takes you across California’s history and It takes you across Black women’s political history in Northern and Southern California.”

Respect My Crown” is a feature-length documentary film that explores the significant contributions of African American women in leadership in the areas of politics, labor, and community activism in the State of California.

McKinnor said the film starts with former California U.S. senator Kamala Harris becoming the first Black woman Vice President and ends with labor activist Lola Smallwood-Cuevas (D-Ladera Heights), who sworn in as a California State Senator in 2022. Between those milestones, the film traces the rich history of Black women in California politics, including the election of Yvonne Braithwaite Burke, the first Black woman elected to the California Legislature in 1966.

A number of state legislators and elected officials attended the event, including California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, who is featured in the documentary.

“We now have Black women politicians, district attorneys and state officials. The film also touches on local city council persons and mayors such as Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and San Francisco Mayor London Breed. It shows Black women’s footprints on the political landscape of California,” said McKinnor.

California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom Marks Equal Pay Day With Website Launch; Renewed Call for Fairness

On March 12, National Equal Pay Day, California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom reminded companies operating in California of their responsibility to pay women equitably and sign on to the California Equal Pay Pledge, which was first launched in 2019.

Siebel Newsom also announced the launch of a new website,

the Equal Pay Playbook, a resource she says is a “key component” of the her gender equity strategy.

“Women are the backbone of their communities and the economy and the breadwinner or co-breadwinner in most households in the U.S., yet the gender wage gap continues to deliver the message that our work and our contributions have less value than men’s,” said Siebel Newsom.

“More than 200 California-based companies, organizations, and municipalities have signed the California Equal Pay Pledgemore than doubling the number of Pledge signatories on Equal Pay Day in 2023,” according to a press release from Siebel Newsom’s office.

The same day, the U.S. Department of Labor released the findings of a study titled “Still Bearing the Cost.” It revealed that Black women lost $42.7 billion in wages compared to White men in 2023.

“These losses are driven entirely by the fact that Black and Hispanic women are concentrated disproportionately in jobs that, on average, pay lower wages than those held by White men,” a U.S. DOJ press release stated.

Black Caucus Members Participate in Women’s History Month Ceremony on the Assembly Floor

Two California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) members, Assemblymembers Akilah Weber (D-La Mesa) and Mike Gipson (D-Carson) were among the speakers during a special ceremony organized by the California Women’s Caucus last week to celebrate Women’s History Month.

During the ceremony, lawmakers from different groups in the Legislature and the 50-member strong Women Caucus paid tribute to several remarkable women from California and across the United States and urged their colleagues to pass House Resolution (HR) 72, legislation that declared March as Women’s History Month.

“I rise on behalf of the members of the California Legislative Black Caucus and the incredible women of that Caucus in support of this resolution and thank our colleagues for bringing this very important piece of legislation before us today,” said Gipson during the event held on the floor of the State Assembly on March 11. Last week, said she was “extremely honored” to escort Sen. Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), before she was honored.

“Your groundbreaking career is unparalleled, and I am proud we represent San Diego County together,” Weber posted on X, the social media platform formally known as Twitter.

Gipson paid tribute to the five women mwmvwea of the CLBC: Sen. Lola Smallwood Cuevas (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblymembers Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City), Akilah Weber (D-La Mesa), Mia Bonta (D-Alameda) and Tina McKinnor (D-Inglewood).

The Assembly leadership honored Janette Robinson Flint, founder of Black Women for Wellness, at the ceremony. She was escorted to the floor by Mckinnor and Assemblymember Rebacca Bauer-Kahan (D-Walnut Creek).

California Service Corps Announces Effort to Recruit Thousands of Young People  

California Volunteers, part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s California for All initiative, last week announced that it is recruiting hundreds of young people in the across the state to participate in its paid service programs aligned with opportunities to solve some of the state’s most challenging problems like climate change, hatred, education disparities, and more.

Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson joined Josh Fryday, California’s Chief Service Officer at the event organized to celebrate the first anniversary of California Volunteers launch of its Job Corps fellow program in Riverside and to announce the new recruitment.

Lock Dawson said in Riverside alone, 100 California Volunteer college job corps fellows have been placed with a number of organizations.

“Governor Newsom and California Volunteers working in partnership with leaders like Mayor Lock Dawson believe that service has the power to connect us. Service has the power to teach us,” said Fryday.

“We are announcing today here in Riverside to recruit across the State of California over 10,000 members of the California Service Corps,” said Fryday. “We need your help getting the word out about CaServiceCorps.com where you can find out about all the opportunities to fit your needs and your passion.

“You don’t have to let your past define your future. In fact your future is now and it starts today with the Service Corps,” said Lock Dawson.

Mayor Bass Recognizes Outgoing U.S. H.U.D. Secretary for Impactful Contributions to L.A.   

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass thanked outgoing U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary, Marcia L. Fudge, for her “exemplary service” and impactful contributions to California largest city after she announced her retirement last week.

“Secretary Fudge’s contributions to Los Angeles during her time serving as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development helped bring thousands of Angelenos inside and directly impacted our ability to urgently save lives – and for that, our city is grateful. I’ve spoken with Secretary Fudge about this decision and she has ensured that the transition at the Department will be smooth and that Los Angeles will continue to have a partner at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and especially with the Biden-Harris Administration.”

Bass, who has made addressing homelessness her top priority, said Fudge understands the country’s housing problems and realizes that “a one-size-fits-all approach” is not the solution.

“The country needs policies and programs that can adapt to meet a community’s unique housing and homelessness challenges. Her work has helped us bring Angelenos inside faster and save lives by cutting red tape, helping us secure waivers, supporting our efforts by recognizing Los Angeles as an initial pilot city for ALL INside, and supporting us with millions of dollars in funding, added Bass.

Asm. Mike Gipson Backs Bill Calling for Standardization of Active Shooter Drills

Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson) announced last week that he is backing Assembly Bill (AB) 1858, legislation that would standardize active shooter drills in California schools.

AB 1858, introduced by Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-El Cajon) would ban simulated gunfire and notify students in advance of the drills.

“I was honored to join Students Demand Action and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America to speak about the importance of AB 1858, which will provide much-needed standardized guidelines for school shooter drills,” wrote Gipson on Facebook.

“The bill would require, on or before June 15, 2025, the State Department of Education to curate and post on its internet website best practices pertaining to school shooter or other armed assailant drills for use by school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools, as provided,” the language of AB 1858 states. “The bill would prohibit a school district, county office of education, or charter school from conducting a school shooter or other armed assailant drill unless it adopts policies that conform to these best practices.”

“When it comes to fire drills in California schools, we are not filling the halls with smoke and turning up the thermostat. We should not be subjecting our kids to fake gunmen and simulated gunfire when it comes to active shooter drills,” said Ward.

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