congress of african people

‘Fight The Layoffs / Auto Workers March & Rally, Newark, New Jersey, [early 1970s]. Event co-sponsored by Black Liberation organizations such the Congress of Afrikan People, Black Panther Party, and February 1st Student Movement, along with ‘new communist movement’ organizations such as Revolutionary Union and October League.

Today In Black History 5th June - Birth of Cardiss Collins

Today the 5th June is the birthday of Cardiss Hortense Collins.

This inspiring woman was a Democratic politician from Illinois who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1973 to 1997. She was the first African-American woman to represent the Midwest in Congress.Collins was elected to Congress in the June 5, 1973 special election to replace her husband, George, who had died in the December 8, 1972 United Airlines Flight 553 plane crash. The seat had been renumbered from the 6th district to the 7th when she took the seat. She had previously worked as an accountant in various state government positions.

Throughout her political career, she was a champion for women’s health and welfare issues. In 1975, she was instrumental in prompting the Social Security Administration to revise Medicare regulations to cover the cost of post-mastectomy breast prosthesis, which before then had been considered cosmetic. In 1979, she was elected as president of the Congressional Black Caucus, a position she used to become an occasional critic of President Jimmy Carter. She later became the caucus vice chairman. In the 1980s, Collins warded off two primary challenges from Alderman Danny K. Davis, who would finally be elected to replace her in 1996. In 1990, Collins, along with 15 other African-American women and men, formed the African-American Women for Reproductive Freedom.

In 1991, Collins was named chair of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Her legislative interests were focused on establishing universal health insurance, providing for gender equity in college sports, and reforming federal child care facilities. Collins gained a brief national prominence in 1993 as the chairwoman of a congressional committee investigating college sports and as a critic of the NCAA.

During her last term (1995–1997), she served as ranking member of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee. She also engaged in an intense debate with Rep. Henry Hyde over Medicaid funding of abortion that year.

Post Politics and Death

Collins did not seek re-election in 1996, citing her age and the Republican majority in the House. In 2004, she was selected by Nielsen Media Research to head a task force examining the representation of African Americans in TV rating samples. Collins lived in Alexandria, Virginia until her death on February 3, 2013, at the age of 81.


The United States Postal Service’s Cardiss Collins Processing and Distribution Center, located at 433 W. Harrison St. in Chicago, Illinois, is named in her honor and was completed in 1996 to replace the old Main Post Office across the street on Van Buren Street.

Rest in Peace and thank you for your contribution to the advancement of black men and women.