Celebrating the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) | Cal Parks
Published: February 2, 2023


In 1967, the number of Black legislators in the California State Legislature was at an all-time high — it had just tripled in the previous year’s election for a total of six members across the Assembly and Senate. This included the first Black woman in the Assembly, Yvonne Brathwaite, and the first Black man in the Senate, Mervyn Dymally. In the midst of the Civil Rights Movement — and 50 years after Frederick M. Roberts became the first Black person to join the California Legislature — these six joined together to form the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC). This was the first caucus of its kind in the United States, and it was organized to address the concerns of African Americans and people of color in California. 

The CLBC has been responsible for a number of historic wins including establishing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday as a state holiday, forming the Center of the California American Educational Excellence and Achievement and the California Museum of Afro-American History and Culture, passing legislation to prohibit redlining in home loans, and increasing accountability of public schools to close educational achievement gaps. 

The CLBC Today 

As of the most recent elections in 2022, there are 12 members of the CLBC, who comprise 10% of the Legislature’s 120 total members (12.5% of the Assembly and 5% of the Senate). 


The mission of the CLBC is “to advocate for the interests of Black Californians, remove road blocks Black Americans face in every aspect of life, demand equity to eliminate disparities between racial groups, and increase African-American participation and representation in all levels of government.” Each legislative session, the group works together to create a Legislative Agenda of bills that support their mission. 

How the CLBC Advocates for Parks 

Racial equity and environmental justice are closely tied, and we can see that intersection highlighted throughout the CLBC’s long history of legislative success. Below we’ve called out just a few ways the CLBC has elevated environmental justice in their work: 

  • Increasing the California Coastal Commission‘s membership to protect the communities most vulnerable to and impacted by heavy pollution and other environmental injustices. 

  • Requiring the California Strategic Growth Council to award competitive grants for neighborhood climate community plans that will reduce greenhouse gases and provide economic, environmental, and health benefits to disadvantaged communities. 

  • Ensuring folks with low incomes will have equal access to solar power technology and jobs through the SASH and MASH programs. 

In 2022-23, we were happy to see several bills and funding priorities that amplify parks, access, and environmental justice. These priorities align well with California State Parks Foundation’s Climate Resiliency and Equitable Access goals, as well as our Justice Equity Inclusion, and Diversity commitments. 

Members of the California State Parks Foundation met with Assemblymember Isaac Bryan at Park Advocacy Day in May 2022.
Members of the California State Parks Foundation met with Assemblymember Isaac Bryan at Park Advocacy Day in May 2022.

For the 2022 state budget, CLBC "advocated fiercely to ensure that institutions and programs that support Black lives, promote justice and provide opportunities for advancement were supported in the process.” The caucus announced that “most of [their] efforts were met with great success.” Two of those successes include funding for state parks: 

Colonel Allensworth State Park 

The budget allocated $40 million for Colonel Allensworth State Park which preserves California’s first all-Black community. More than half of the money is for a new visitor center and other “interpretive enhancements.” The funding requires the California Department of Parks and Recreation to collaborate with the surrounding community in the planning and design of these improvements. The budget will also increase access to the park by authorizing free days over the next three years.   

California African American Museum 

$15 million was provided in a one-time General Fund for the Department of Parks and Recreation to partner with the California African American Museum to tell the story of Black history in state parks in a more inclusive and comprehensive way. 

We are so grateful for the work of the CLBC, expanding the rights and elevating the concerns of Black Californians. To learn more about the California Legislative Black Caucus, visit their website and follow them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook