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Congressional Black Caucus Struggles With Question of Race

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.”

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