RALEIGH — North Carolina’s Legislative Black Caucus is currently made up of all Democrats. Democrats are currently the minority party in the legislature. African American members make up a majority of that minority.

“There are about 35 of us,” said Rep. Garland Pierce, a Scotland County Democrat and the head of the Legislative Black Caucus. “So that is a large population that we cover the state of North Carolina, and we just try to keep it by emails and anything we can to keep our voice out there.”

The Black Caucus lists its mission as being organized to: “…operate as a vehicle through which blacks residing in the state of North Carolina will be able to exercise their political power in a unified manner; to ensure that the views and concerns of blacks are carried out by their elected representatives; and to work to develop the political consciousness of black people.”

“So I hope all that we do will benefit all of North Carolina, not just black people,” said Pierce. “We’re not that shallow to do anything like that. But issues we deal with usually effect people who are not well off, who are just struggling, and just trying to make ends meet and that’s a large population of minorities, but other people of North Carolina also.”

The senior member of the Black Caucus is Representative Mickey Michaux of Durham County. When he started his tenure in the 1970s, he was one of just three African American members. He says he believes it is important that he stands shoulder to shoulder with his fellow black legislators to tackle issues today.

“It’s a situation that arises out of the past,” said Michaux. “Where we have been shut out so long and have not had the opportunity over the years. I am not talking about the immediate time, I’m talking about in the past when we have not had the opportunities that we have now to make a difference.”

From economic empowerment to education issues, the caucus says they are poised to make their voices heard again in 2015.

– Loretta Boniti