Civil Rights

Summary of Position

Today, our country faces the most pressing call for racial justice since the 1960s. Having spent more than 25 years in public service fighting for equal treatment and protection for all, Congressman DeSaulnier is passionate about meeting this call with the boldness and urgency it demands. In Congress, he is at the forefront in the fight for equality, embracing the belief that no one is equal until everyone is equal.

By the Numbers

  • An African American person is five times more likely to be stopped by law enforcement without just cause than a white person.

  • African Americans, Latinos, and American Indians were hospitalized due to coronavirus at rates 4.5 to 5.5. times higher than Whites.

  • State legislators introduced 55 anti-LGBT bills across 22 states in 2019.

  • 7 million, or 14% of all public school students, receive special education services.

  • Only 33.6% of people with disabilities were employed in 2019, compared to 77.3% of people without disabilities and down from 50% when the ADA took effect in 1991.

  • In the latest Census, Contra Costa County was 58.6% White, 24.4% Hispanic, and 9.3% African American.

Things to Know

  • Member of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus

  • Member of the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus

  • 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign Congressional Scorecard

  • Led Conversation on Race town halls, with Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass and Congresswoman Barbara Lee, on racial injustice & inequity, and created a national template for other Members of Congress to host these events in their communities

Working for You

Champion for the Port Chicago 50:
On July 17, 1944, a ship loaded with weapons exploded at Port Chicago in Richmond, CA killing or wounding 710 people, 435 of whom were African American. When the surviving African American sailors refused to return to work under the same unsafe conditions, 50 were convicted of mutiny. Joined by members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and with the support of the NAACP, Congressman DeSaulnier spearheaded multiple efforts in the U.S. House of Representatives to call for the exoneration of the sailors and erase the historic stain from their records. On July 12, 2019, 75 years after the Port Chicago Disaster, Congressman DeSaulnier successfully passed a measure that directs the Secretary of the United States Navy to publicly exonerate the Port Chicago 50 in the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2500). As a nation, we cannot truly move forward until we correct the mistakes of our past.

Confronting Racial Injustice
Congressman DeSaulnier believes we must come together as a nation to dismantle the systems that were built to disadvantage people of color and that is why he began hosting a series of “Conversation on Race” town halls with the goal of discovering and promoting best practices for improving race relations in areas such as health care, education, employment, and criminal justice. He also proudly supported the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 7120) to ban deadly chokeholds, hold problematic officers accountable, and show communities of color that we are serious about making a change. In response to evidence of the disproportionate health effects of coronavirus on communities of color, Congressman DeSaulnier joined an effort to demand that the CDC further investigate and address these disparities.

Pushing for Continued Progress for Individuals with Disabilities: 
Americans with disabilities, a group that includes over 50 million people, have struggled against bias, stereotypes, and discrimination throughout our nation’s history. As a member of the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus and the House Committee on Education and Labor, Congressman DeSaulnier introduced the Improving Access to Higher Education Act (H.R. 4643), the first-ever comprehensive legislation specifically addressing the needs of students with disabilities in higher education. He also authored the Protection and Advocacy in Education Act (H.R. 8187) to provide funding for legal services to assist students with disabilities.

For a downloadable copy of Mark's civil rights work, click the image below: