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History of Caucus Chairs

In the 1960s, three educators and civil rights activists affiliated with the University of Maryland proposed the establishment of a legislative black caucus to foster social and political change. Delegate Lena K. Lee initiated the call for the caucus, and the number of black legislators gradually increased through subsequent elections. In 1970, the caucus was officially founded with Delegate Arthur King assuming the chairmanship, while Senator Verda Welcome became the inaugural Vice Chairman.

Throughout the years, various leaders assumed the role of Chairman, guiding the caucus and achieving significant advancements in diverse areas. Evolving into a formidable political force, the caucus engaged in frequent meetings with the executive branch, thereby influencing legislation and drawing attention to pivotal issues. Its influence extended to liberalizing business practices, addressing prisoner experimentation, and passing legislation related to bankruptcy laws, cross-burning, and support for black colleges and universities.


The caucus has remained actively involved in mainstream legislation to the present day.


Arthur A. King

Term Length: 1970-1972

On November 1966, Arthur King achieved a historic milestone by winning the election and becoming the first black person from Prince George's County to be elected to the Maryland General Assembly. His noteworthy achievements continued as he pursued higher education, earning a master's degree in agriculture from the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad and later a law degree from Catholic University. King's unwavering commitment to public service and his relentless pursuit of academic growth have greatly contributed to his remarkable accomplishments.


Lloyal Randolph

Term Length: 1972-1975

January 5, 1968 marked a momentous occasion for Randolph as he secured a highly regarded appointment to the Maryland House of Delegates, signaling the start of his illustrious journey in public service. Notably, he earned the distinction of being the second person ever to assume the esteemed role of chairman within the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, showcasing his exceptional leadership and unwavering dedication to championing the rights and interests of the African American community. Through his influential contributions, Randolph has left an indelible imprint on Maryland's legislative landscape, playing a pivotal role in advancing equity and promoting greater representation within the state's political sphere.


Robert L. Douglass

Term Length: 1976-1977

Mr. Douglass's influential impact on the political arena commenced with the establishment of the formidable Eastside Democratic Organization. Through this organization, he tirelessly advocated for enhanced minority representation in government-affiliated enterprises, placing utmost importance on equitable inclusion. In 1967, his tireless endeavors were duly acknowledged as he secured a seat on the City Council, heralding the onset of his unwavering dedication to serving the community. In 1995, Mr. Douglass's unwavering commitment to public service culminated in his re-election to the council, where he embarked on an admirable four-year term. Notably, he attained the distinction of becoming the first black individual to occupy a council seat for the 2nd District.

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Arthur G. Murphy, Sr.

Term Length: 1978

Murphy's impactful journey in politics commenced in 1974, when he secured his first election to the Maryland House of Delegates. Assuming office in January 1975, he swiftly emerged as an active and engaged participant in the legislative process. In 1978, his unwavering dedication and exceptional leadership qualities were duly acknowledged, propelling him to the esteemed position of Chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, thus further augmenting his influence within the political sphere.


Robert L. Douglass

Term Length: 1978-1980

Robert L. Douglass Is the Only Member to serve twice as Black Caucus Chair.


Frank Melvin Conway

Term Length: 1981-1982

Following his induction into the Maryland House of Delegates, Conaway was promptly assigned to the esteemed House Judiciary Committee, where his legislative prowess shone through as he championed a series of bills aimed at enhancing police practices and bolstering public safety. A notable milestone occurred in 2014 when Conaway took the groundbreaking initiative of becoming the first Maryland legislator to sponsor a bill mandating the use of body-worn cameras for police officers.
This pioneering act underscored his unwavering commitment to promoting transparency and accountability within law enforcement, leaving an indelible mark on Maryland's legislative landscape.


Clarence W. Blount

Term Length: 1982-1984

During the early 1970s, Blount's entry into the realm of politics marked the inception of a remarkable chapter. Blount secured election to the Maryland State Senate, magnanimously representing the entirety of Baltimore City within the 41st district. He assumed a pivotal role as a member of the Democratic National Committee, representing his party with distinction at the Democratic Party National Convention in 1988, 1992, 1996, and 2000. A testament to his influential leadership, Blount's tenure in the Senate reached new heights in 1983 when Senate President Thomas V. Miller Jr. bestowed upon him the honor of being the Majority Leader, thereby making him the first African-American to hold this esteemed position within the Maryland Senate.


Elijah E. Cummings

Term Length: 1984-1985

With a strong foundation in education, Cummings embarked on a career in public service, serving in the Maryland House of Delegates for an impressive 14 years. During this time, he honed his legal expertise, earning a Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1976. Shortly thereafter, he was admitted to the Maryland bar, and for the next 19 years, Cummings excelled in the practice of law.
In 1996, Cummings's dedication to public service led him to a new realm of impact as he was elected to the United States House of Representatives, marking the beginning of a significant chapter in his political career.


Decatur W. Trotter

Term Length: 1986-1988

Trotter embarked on his political journey by serving in the Maryland House of Delegates, representing Prince George's County from 1975 to 1979. During his tenure, he made significant contributions as a member of the Ways and Means Committee, most notably by sponsoring Maryland's pioneering minority business enterprise act. Moreover, Trotter demonstrated his commitment to justice and equality by vehemently opposing capital punishment and fearlessly speaking out against racial disparities in judicial sentencing. His life and achievements stand as a testament to his unwavering commitment to justice, advocacy for minority business enterprises, and powerful oratory skills that resonated across generations.


Curtis Stovall Anderson

Term Length: 1988-1990

In 1982, Anderson achieved another milestone in his political journey as he secured a seat in the House of Delegates. Following five years of dedicated service in the Maryland General Assembly, he earned the esteemed position of chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland During his tenure as chairman, Anderson played a pivotal role in sponsoring and successfully advocating for the passage of Maryland's Minority Business Enterprise Act. This landmark legislation opened doors for minority-owned businesses to participate in major state projects, such as the construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Thanks to Anderson's efforts, approximately 20% of the contracts awarded for the development of the new ballpark were granted to minority-owned businesses.


Christine M. Jones

Term Length: 1990-1992

Christine M. Jones dedicated her career to the field of education, serving as an esteemed educator in the Prince George's County school system for over two decades. Additionally, he proudly represented Prince George's County as a member of the House of Delegates from 1982 to 1994.


John D. Jefferies

Term Length: 1992-1994

John D. Jefferies a distinguished individual, was chosen by the 44th District Democratic Central Committee to fill the esteemed west Baltimore Senate seat, which was previously occupied by Larry Young. efferies embarked on his educational journey at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Baltimore. Showing immense dedication to his country, he served valiantly in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, contributing to the defense and protection of his nation.​


Joanne Benson

Term Length: 1995-1996

Joanne Benson's impactful political career spanned from 1991 to 2011 as a distinguished member of the House of Delegates.  In 2010, she achieved a notable victory by defeating incumbent state senator Nathaniel Exum, subsequently assuming office in January 2011. Recognizing her exemplary leadership skills, Benson was selected as the Senate's Deputy Majority Leader in 2020Throughout her distinguished career, Benson's actions and voting record have demonstrated her commitment to various issues, leaving a lasting impact on the legislative landscape of Maryland.

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Larry Young

Term Length: 1996-1997

Larry Young served as a prominent member of the Maryland Senate from 1988 to 1998, representing the 44th district in Baltimore, Maryland. His subsequent endeavors in talk radio and involvement in the television industry have added further dimensions to his post-political career.


Carolyn J.B. Howard

Term Length: 1998-2000

From August 2, 1988, to January 10, 1990, she served as a dedicated member of the House of Delegates, making valuable contributions to Maryland's legislative body.  Recognizing her exceptional abilities and leadership qualities, she was appointed as the Deputy Speaker Pro Tempore of the Maryland State House of Delegates, a role she diligently fulfilled from 2007 to 2019. Her tenure in this esteemed position further exemplified her commitment to effective governance and service to the people of Maryland.


Talmadge Branch

Term Length: 2000-2002

As the visionary founder of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland's foundation, Branch has played a pivotal role in advancing the interests and empowerment of the African American community. Branch's impact reaches far and wide. He has been a driving force in crucial issues such as raising the minimum wage, championing paid sick leave for working families, and advocating for the ban of pre-K suspensions. Through these efforts, he has consistently demonstrated his dedication to social and economic justice. Branch's contributions as a legislator and advocate have left an indelible mark on Maryland, making him a respected figure in the state's political landscape.


Obie Patterson

Term Length: 2002-2004

Patterson served as a dedicated member of the House of Delegates from January 11, 1995, to January 10, 2007, leaving a lasting impact during his tenure. Notably, Patterson assumed the significant role of Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland from 2002 to 2004, demonstrating his leadership and commitment to advancing the interests of the African American community within the legislative arena. Patterson's unwavering dedication to public service and his commitment to important causes have left a significant mark on Maryland's legislative landscape, earning him respect and admiration.


Rudolph C. Cane

Term Length: 2004-2006

Cane dedicated 15 years of his career to representing District 37A in the Maryland House of Delegates before retiring in 2014. Notably, he holds the distinction of being the first African American to represent the Eastern Shore in the Maryland House of Delegates. Additionally, Cane served as the esteemed chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland. Rudolph C. Cane's dedicated service and trailblazing role as a prominent African American representative have left a lasting impact on Maryland's political sphere, shaping the way for future leaders and inspiring generations to come.


Verna L. Jones-Rodwell

Term Length: 2006-2008

Jones-Rodwell represented the esteemed 44th legislative district in the Maryland State Senate, leaving an indelible mark on the legislative landscape. From 2007 to 2008, she held the esteemed position of chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, exemplifying her commitment to championing the rights and interests of underrepresented communities. Verna L. Jones-Rodwell's multifaceted career and unwavering dedication to public service, advocacy, and leadership have made her a respected figure in Maryland's political and social spheres. Her work continues to positively impact the lives of countless individuals and communities, leaving a lasting legacy for future generations.


Veronica L. Turner

Term Length: 2008-2010

Turner dedicated over two decades of her career to serving as the president of the influential Service Employees International Union (SEIU) from 1996 to 2018. Veronica Turner's impressive leadership, combined with her commitment to social justice and labor rights, has left an indelible mark on the community. Her unwavering support for causes she believed in, such as marriage equality, showcases her dedication to promoting a fair and inclusive society. Turner's remarkable contributions continue to inspire and shape the path towards a more equitable future.


Catherine E. Pugh

Term Length: 2010-2012

Pugh held the position of the 51st mayor of Baltimore from 2016 to 2019. Pugh's political journey began in 1999 when she was elected to the Baltimore City Council, marking her entry into Maryland politics. She further honed her leadership skills in the Maryland House of Delegates and the Maryland Senate, ultimately serving as the Majority Leader from 2015 to 2016. Recognizing the importance of public service, Pugh embarked on her first campaign for Baltimore mayor in 2011. Education played a vital role in Pugh's journey, as she pursued and successfully earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Business Administration from Morgan State University in Baltimore​


Aisha N. Braveboy

Term Length: 2012-2014

Since 2018, she has served as the state's attorney of Prince George's County, Maryland. Prior to this, she served as a respected member of the Maryland House of Delegates, representing the 25th district from 2007 to 2015. Braveboy embarked on her political journey in 2006 when she ran for the Maryland House of Delegates in District 25, aspiring to succeed state delegate Anthony Brown, who pursued the position of Lieutenant Governor of Maryland. Aisha Nazapa Braveboy's unwavering commitment to public service, her fervent advocacy for social justice, and her legislative accomplishments establish her as an influential figure in Maryland's political landscape.


Barbara A. Robinson

Term Length: 2014-2016

Barbara A. Robinson, an esteemed American politician, currently serves as the representative of the 40th legislative district in the Maryland Senate. Her dedication and commitment to public service have made her an influential figure in Maryland's political landscape.


Cheryl D. Glenn

Term Length: 2016-2018

Following a remarkable tenure in the labor movement, Glenn ventured into the realm of politics and secured a seat in the Maryland General Assembly. Her notable achievement came as she emerged victorious in the race for the 45th district representation in east Baltimore, surpassing not only her fellow candidates but also the incumbents. Despite it being her inaugural campaign for a state office, Glenn's resounding success spoke volumes about her popularity and the trust placed in her by the constituents.


Darryl Barnes

Term Length: 2018-2022

Darryl Lamont Barnes diligently served as a distinguished member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 2015 to 2023. His remarkable tenure also saw him assume the esteemed positions of Deputy Majority Whip from 2017 to 2023 and Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland from 2018 to 2022. On March 29, 2018, Barnes achieved a significant milestone when he was elected as the Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland by a vote from its members. This notable appointment marked him as the first male leader of the caucus in over a decade.


Jheanelle K. Wilkins

Term Length: 2023-

Jheanelle is a legislative champion dedicated to policy change that makes a difference in people’s lives. As a legislator, Jheanelle has leveraged her organizing and advocacy background to help pass impactful legislation in the Maryland General Assembly where she serves on the House Ways and Means Committee. She is a trusted voice on the Speaker’s leadership team as the Parliamentarian of the Maryland House of Delegates. She is also the Chair of the Subcommittee on Election Law. In 2014, she was elected by District 20 voters to the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee where she worked to consistently engage voters and increase voter registration. Jheanelle was appointed to the House of Delegates in 2017 and resoundingly elected by the voters in 2018.

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