And the blurring of racial lines might complicate things for race-based organizations. President Barack Obama, for example, was once a CBC member, and his heritage includes a white mother and a Kenyan father.
But the CBC sidesteps those kinds of issues by admitting anyone who identifies as an African-American. The organization has always been heavily Democratic, though it’s technically nonpartisan, and only two of six black Republicans elected to Congress have chosen to join.
“Any African-American can join the CBC,” Cleaver says. “You don’t do a blood test. You don’t have to fill out any papers. You don’t have to like NBA basketball.”
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.