Blacks in Politics, Part 2
John F. Conyers Jr. has served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1965 making him the longest serving African American in Congress and one of the longest-serving members of the House. A founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the first African American to chair the Judiciary Committee, Conyers is widely regarded as one of the most progressive members of Congress. In 1968 Conyers first proposed a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Conyers also worked to ensure recognition of the United States as the birthplace of jazz and African Americans as its inventors. And every year since 1989 Conyers has introduced the "Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act" (H.R. 40) that calls for a study of possible reparations for descendants of U.S. slaves. The number forty in the bill refers to the forty acres and a mule promised to some newly freed slaves in 1865. Conyers is currently serving his twenty-first consecutive term in the House.