Jamaal Bowman

Jamaal Bowman

: Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: House Creative Committee


* Joined the Democratic Socialists of America in 2019
* Stated that “white male domestic terrorism” was “the biggest issue in our country”
* Was elected to the U.S. House in 2020
* Supports defunding the police
* Views slavery as a natural outgrowth of capitalism
* Member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus & Congressional Black Caucus
* Member of “The Squad,” a small coterie of far-left House Democrats
* Claims that standardized testing in education is inherently racist
* Pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel
* Supports the “Green New Deal”
* Favors packing the Supreme Court with leftwing ideologues


Jamaal Anthony Bowman was born on April 1, 1976 in New York City, where he and his siblings were raised by a single mother in an East Harlem housing project. When Bowman was 16, he moved with his family to Sayreville, New Jersey. He briefly attended Potomac State Junior College in West Virginia before earning a BA degree in sports management from the University of New Haven in 1999. After completing his undergraduate studies, Bowman began working as an educator in New York City, where he was first employed as a crisis management teacher in P.S. 90, a South Bronx elementary school. He then went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Guidance Counseling from Mercy College, and a Doctor of Education Degree from Manhattanville College.

In September 2009, Bowman founded the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action (CASA), a public middle school in the northeast Bronx neighborhood of Eastchester, where he went on to serve as principal for about a decade.

A Confirmed Socialist

In 2019, Bowman joined the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

In October of that year, he said: “When I talk about Medicare for All, when I talk about housing as a human right, investing in public education and a federal jobs guarantee, people call me a democratic socialist. I’m fine with that. There’s some stigma associated with the word ‘socialism’ even though the current capitalist model we have isn’t working for the majority of Americans. We have a system where we have three Americans that own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of the country. We have 40 million people living in poverty. We have 15.5 million children living in poverty. What we have now is not working for the masses. If you want to call me a socialist, then call me a socialist.”

Entering Politics

Inspired by the successful 2018 congressional campaign of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bowman in 2019 left his job with CASA and launched a campaign to challenge Eliot Engel, a 16-term incumbent U.S. House member representing New York’s 16th Congressional District, in the 2020 Democratic Party primary. With registered Democrats in the 16th District outnumbering registered Republicans by more than a four-to-one ratio, the winner of that primary would be assured of victory in the general election. Indeed, no Republican even chose to file as a candidate for 2020.

Decrying America’s Allegedly Rampant White Racism

In an October 2019 appearance on The Hardy Report podcast, Bowman identified “white male domestic terrorism” as “the biggest issue in our country.”

Articulating his deeply held belief that America is a nation steeped in racism, Bowman tweeted on April 16, 2020: “There is systemic oppression and terror and racism that lives in every American institution.”

Bowman’s Campaign Platform (2020)

Among the key planks and principles in Bowman’s 2020 congressional campaign platform, as articulated on his campaign website, were the following:

Reconstruction Agenda

* “It’s time for us to root out the racism that’s been part of this country since the very beginning. We must confront the question of whether America can fulfill its revolutionary promise and become a democracy that guarantees freedom and justice for all, or whether the price paid for the original sin of slavery and white supremacy must be unceasing [black] misery, poverty, and death.”

* “We see the antithesis of democracy in the [white-on-black] murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and David McAtee, in a pandemic that disproportionately infects black and brown communities, and in a [Trump] White House that schedules a campaign rally in Tulsa, the site of white supremacist terror, on Juneteenth. Still today, we bear witness to an America that will shed blood to cling to power and privilege on the basis of race.”
* “We are heartbroken that decade-after-decade, century-after-century, we witness our [black] brothers and sisters robbed of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

* “America must ‘Reconcile With Our History’ by establishing a National Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate, document, and assess the federal government’s role in America’s history of racism…. The purpose of the Commission is to: 1. Foster a national conversation on our government’s history of racial discrimination and oppression, 2. Establish national memorials and curriculum standards to enshrine and pass on the truths of our history, 3. Create an accounting of the harm caused by our government’s policies, 4. Create a proposal for reparations that would rectify the harms that were caused by our government.

* “All working people will be better off in an America that values black lives. Those who control our democracy and economy benefit from and exploit racism to keep working people divided against each other.

* Our nation has a cruel and underfunded social safety net because too many people don’t want their tax dollars going to help out someone who they think is different from them and ‘undeserving’ of support.

A New Deal for Education:

* “[F]or decades, our government has failed to provide every child with an excellent public education. Let’s call this system for what it is: educational apartheid. In 2016, majority-minority school districts received $23 billion less in funding than majority-white districts in the United States.  The children who are getting left behind are overwhelmingly African-American, Latinx, immigrant, and poor and working-class children of all races.”

* “Instead of privatization, expanding charter schools, and shutting down public schools, let’s equitably invest in our public schools, pay our teachers a living wage, and fund full-time nurses, counselors, [and] social workers in every school.”

* “Instead of a test-and-punish regime that stigmatizes, labels, and ranks students, teachers, and schools, we should educate the whole child: nurturing their physical, cognitive, social, and creative development.”

* “Instead of punitive discipline, such as suspensions and expulsions, let’s invest in restorative justice and trauma-informed pedagogy and care.”

*‍ “As a principal I helped lead the fight against standardized testing. As a Member of Congress, I will sponsor and champion legislation to end the federal annual testing requirement from grades three to eight, to dramatically reduce the amount of time students spend taking standardized tests, and to eliminate all high-stakes consequences that have been tied to testing for students, educators, and schools.”

* “Support a ban on charters run by for-profit education management organizations, because education is a public good, not a profit-making opportunity, and a ban on all cyber charter schools which often provide an inferior quality of education.”

* “Improve the climate for teaching and learning in schools by ending the school-to-prison pipeline. Eliminate federal zero-tolerance discipline policies that force student suspensions for minor offenses, result in huge racial disparities in school discipline[,] and are ineffective at improving school safety. Invest in restorative practices and supports like counselors and Student Help Zones and ensure that all teachers are trained in restorative and trauma-informed practices before stepping into a classroom.”

* “Decriminalize school truancy. We need effective approaches to student absenteeism, criminalizing truancy for parents and students is totally ineffective. The community school strategy, which includes social workers and counselors, will make more progress than cops and jails when it comes to students skipping school.

* “Guarantee free, universal school meals.”

* “Invest in recruiting, hiring, and supporting teachers of color so children of color have teachers who look like them in the classroom.”

* “[Guarantee] universal pre-K and childcare for all.”

* “Make public colleges and universities and vocational programs tuition-free and provide grants to students to help cover living expenses. This can be largely funded through raising taxes on Wall Street and a wealth tax.”

* “Cancel all student loan debt. This can be largely funded through raising taxes on Wall Street and a wealth tax.”

* “Ban for-profit colleges.”

* “[Implement] universal higher education in prisons: reinstate Pell Grants for incarcerated students.”

A New Deal for Housing:

* “National Rent Control: National rent control means a cap on rent increases at 150% of consumer price index, or 3% — whichever is higher.”

* “Just-cause Eviction Protections: Too many families live one landlord’s whim away from a forced move. Tenants must have the right to renew their lease.”

* “Right to Counsel in Housing Court: Right to Counsel would provide tenants with free legal advice when facing an eviction case in court.”

* In order to truly solve the housing and homelessness crisis, our nation needs to commit to a deep public reinvestment in public and social housing. […] As a member of Congress, I would recommit to public and social housing, to make sure every resident of NY-16 has a guaranteed home.”

* “Supporting the Homes for All bill, which would provide $1 Trillion to build 12 million new social housing units over the next decade. I would fight to make sure that these units are prioritized to end homelessness.”

* “As a member of Congress, I’d fight for: Investing $32 billion in ending homelessness and set aside at least 25,000 units of low income housing to house the homeless across the Country.”

* “Fifty years after the Fair Housing Act, people of color are disproportionately targeted by real estate brokers and landlords who refuse equal opportunities for buying or renting a home.”

* “Require HUD to return to President Obama’s signature ‘Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing‘ rule, which requires local governments to affirmatively study segregation and housing discrimination in their jurisdictions in order to receive federal resources.”

The Green New Deal:

* “Move Rapidly to 100% Clean and Renewable Energy by 2030: … That means investing in wind, solar and geothermal energy and upgrading every building, home, and mode of transportation in this country through a mobilization of our economy that we haven’t seen since World War 2.

* “Fixing and upgrading our infrastructure to meet carbon-free standards will require massive investment and create millions of jobs, spur our economy and guarantee our future.

* “We must retrofit all public housing toward green energy and promote the building of new public housing units as laid out in recent legislation by Representative [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez and Representative [Ilhan] Omar.

* “I support creating an Environmental Justice fund to deal with issues such as lead in drinking water and toxic air pollution that is causing asthma in black and Latinx communities.

* “Federal Jobs Guarantee: Every American who wants a job should be able to find one. The transition to a clean energy system will create more than enough jobs for every American who wants one to be able to get one.

* “Global Green New Deal: The U.S. military is the biggest polluter on the planet so decreasing our military spending will go a long way toward saving the planet. I believe the climate crisis is an opportunity to finally discard our weapons and fear of each other to come together and save the planet.

Medicare for All:

* America’s healthcare system is fundamentally broken, and a single-payer healthcare system will save millions of lives.

* Health care is a human right. That’s why I support Medicare for All.

* “‍Reproductive rights are under attack across the country. Medicare for All would cover reproductive services including abortion. I also support repealing the Hyde Amendment because I believe abortion is healthcare, and healthcare is a human right.

Immigrant Rights:
* “No one should live in fear of deportation. No one should have their children ripped from their arms and locked in a cage. Immigrants do so much of the unrecognized, often grueling labor of our country and deserve to be treated with dignity and justice. We must stop Trump’s border wall and his white supremacist agenda, and reimagine our complex immigration system that’s been riddled with problems long before Trump

* “The Dream Act of 2001 offered a pathway to legal status to young, undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children. … Dreamers deserve a pathway to citizenship and under no circumstance should their legal right to be in this country be revoked.

* “Abolish ICE [the Immigration & Customs Enforcement agency]: ‍ICE is not making our nation safer. They have become a rogue deportation force for the President’s white supremacist agenda. We must end raids at schools, places of worship, hospitals, and so much more.

‍”We must decriminalize immigration, end the detention of those seeking asylum and relief at our border, and eliminate all for-profit detention centers. We must support a Marshall Plan for Central America that helps confront the root economic, political, and environmental roots of increased migration.

* I believe in a path to citizenship and permanent protection from deportation for all 11 million undocumented Americans in our country*

Women’s Rights:

* “Pay Equity: “Women are paid 81 cents to a man’s dollar. Black women are paid 65 cents to a man’s dollar, and Latinx women are paid even less at 61 cents. We must establish once and for all that women deserve equal pay for equal work.”

* “Defend Planned Parenthood: Women have a right to comprehensive healthcare and reproductive services. Planned Parenthood is, and has always been, an outstanding provider. An attack on Planned Parenthood is an attack on us all. When I am elected, I will use the full force of my office to defend Planned Parenthood and ensure it has funding for years to come.

* Reproductive Rights: We must codify Roe and make the right to abortion a federal law.

Combating Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and Xenophobia:

* “The rise in Islamophobia is most clearly manifested in Trump’s Muslim ban, but has been present for years. […] Muslim families, whether they’ve lived in America for over a century or recently arrived, are made to feel like suspects by the most powerful officials in our nation.

* In the past few years, since Trump was elected, attacks have become more frequent, and more deadly.

* The rise of white nationalism in the United States feeds on fear of ‘outsiders,’ be they immigrants, people of color, Jewish, or Muslims. …  We must make sure that we have anti-racist curriculum in our schools to create a flourishing multiracial, multiethnic, and multifaith democracy. We must also make sure that the Department of Justice takes seriously the growing threat of antisemitism, Islamophobia, hate crimes, and white supremacist extremism in this country.

Progressive Foreign Policy:

* Our world is in crisis. There are two fundamentally different visions being offered on how to move forward. On one side, you have the foreign policy vision of people like Donald Trump who want to divide-and-conquer people all around the world by making us turn against each other. They want to build walls, scapegoat the other, and pretend to fight for working people while serving the interests of multinational corporations.

* “On the other side, leaders are building a progressive foreign policy vision based on our common humanity and shared aspirations. […] We must prioritize diplomacy over war.

* “Our nation will spend more than $700 billion on defense spending just this year. That doesn’t align with the values of our district, especially when we have so many in need.

* “We must dramatically reduce the Pentagon’s budget over the next ten years, end the forever wars, and rebuild a diplomacy-first approach through the State Department.

* We must rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement. President Obama’s 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action successfully brought the world closer to peace through diplomacy. Trump’s decision to discard the deal undermined American influence and put us on a path to greater conflict.

* “We must support peace, dignity, and security for all Israelis and Palestinians. I strongly support a two-state solution and believe in a path forward that upholds democracy and self-determination for the Israeli and Palestinian people.

* “We must also have honest conversations about our government’s role in enabling the continued occupation of the Palestinian people. Our taxpayer dollars should not be going toward subsidizing settlement expansion, home demolitions, the detention of Palestinian children, or in any way supporting the threatened Israeli ‘annexation‘ of the West Bank. We must ensure that U.S. support is used to address the very real security threats Israel faces, not to entrench the occupation.”

* “A Marshall Plan. I support Secretary Julian Castro’s idea for a 21st century Marshall Plan for Central America. We must work to address the root causes of violence and migration in the Northern Triangle of Central America. Through economic investment and strong diplomatic ties, we can help create sustainable economies.

Stand with Seniors:

* ‍Expand Social Security: ‍No more uncertainty. Social Security will deplete its reserves by 2034, leading to cuts for over 20% of eligible seniors. We must introduce legislation to guarantee Social Security funding for the next 50 years. But we have to go further than that. We need common sense reforms, like linking Social Security benefits to inflation and smarter adjustments for rising cost of living.

* Cut Prescription Drug Prices in Half: I am proud to endorse the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act, the Prescription Drug Price Relief Act, and the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act. These bills will allow the government to negotiate drug prices, lock them to the median of other comparable countries, and allow consumers to buy directly from other markets like Canada.

Fight for Families:
* “Universal child care: Day care should be a free extension of public school system. […] Dramatically increase maternity, family, and sick leave.

Justice Reform:

* “Legalize and Regulate Marijuana, End the War on Drugs: Drug-related arrests have tripled since 1980 and nearly half of them have been related to marijuana. The system is filled with discriminatory outcomes. The same crime is punished more harshly when the perpetrator is a person of color. […] Consequently, nearly 80 percent of people in federal prisons for drug-related crimes are black, and 60 percent of those serving at the state level are black or Latinx.”

* “We must legalize and regulate marijuana – and ensure that it’s not just wealthy white men benefitting from this new industry. Legalization should also include expunging the records of those with non-violent related offenses. Communities most impacted by the racist war on drugs should receive the most benefits from legalizing marijuana. It is not okay for the people who perpetrated this heinous, racist war against mostly young black and brown people to now profit off of the marijuana industry.

* “No one should be in jail because they suffer from addiction to drugs. Nobody should be criminalized for possession of drugs. We should be advocating for services such as treatment-on-demand, drug maintenance programs, harm reduction centers and safe consumption medical services to confront addiction, overdose deaths and HIV.

* Repeal the 1994 Crime Bill: The 1994 crime bill was written by politicians who wanted to show that they were ‘tough on crime.’ The bill gave states $10 billion to build more prisons; increased policing; kept people in prison longer through provisions like the ‘three strikes’ rule (mandatory sentence of life without parole for committing a third violent or drug trafficking crime); created 60 new death penalty offenses; and permitted 13-year-olds to be tried as adults. The result? The crime bill has filled our nation’s prisons and jails with our fellow Americans – most of them black or Latino.

* Ending Excessive Sentencing and Mandatory Minimums: ‍This includes eliminating mandatory minimum sentencing; ending the prosecution of low-level drug possession (the most common cause of arrest in the U.S.); ending civil asset forfeiture (which allows the government to seize property from individuals without due process); and eliminating deportations for drug possession.

* Eliminate Cash Bail: ‍Bail perpetuates racial and economic inequities in our criminal justice system. Thousands of people shouldn’t languish in jail simply because they are too poor or too black, while millionaires and billionaires can simply purchase freedom.

* No New Jails or Prisons: ‍We should be building more schools, hospitals, and child care facilities – not more jails and prisons. The United States puts more people in cages than any other nation on earth. Let’s get our values and priorities straight.

* ‍Police Accountability and Enforcing Equal Treatment: ‍For many decades, many communities have felt like law enforcement is an occupying force. […] We must create federal policies that hold police departments accountable to a basic standard of combating racial bias, inequity and discrimination. … We must end stop-and-frisk practices that still hurt our communities. We must demilitarize police departments and strengthen police accountability and civilian review boards.

* Solitary confinement is an internationally recognized human rights violation. It creates enduring trauma, it is applied in discriminatory ways, and it is torture. We must abolish it.

* ‍Decriminalize Immigration, End Mass Deportation: ‍We must end Section 287(g) under the Immigration and Nationality Act which drives local police departments to feed our mass deportation machine. We must abolish ICE, place a moratorium on deportations, and end family separations.

* ‍Improve Services for People who are Formerly Incarcerated: Every victim of our criminal justice system should come out to a job and housing with opportunity for advancement.

* ‍Restore Voting Rights for Incarcerated People […] Voting must be a right – and rights must not be abridged.

* ‍We must end the practice of federal, state, and local governments contracting private corporations to manage prisons and detention facilities.

* “We have to invest in public education, housing, transportation, job training, mental healthcare, and shift first responder responsibilities so that people who are called to a situation involving behavioral health issues are trained service providers instead of armed police. … It is time to invest in schools and communities, not cages.

Gun Violence Prevention:

* “I will work diligently in Congress to pass gun violence prevention legislation that includes:‍

  • Universal background checks for private sales including at gun shows and online
  • Raising the minimum age to buy a firearm to at least 18 years old …
  • Reporting on multiple purchases and bulk sales of guns in all 50 states
  • Closing the ‘boyfriend loophole’ to protect survivors of domestic abuse …
  • Creating a federal licensing system for the purchase of any type of firearm or ammunition
  • Prohibiting anyone convicted of a hate crime from owning a gun …
  • Establishing a one-week waiting period for all firearms purchases
  • Improving the Gun-Free School Zones Act to include college and university campuses, and individuals licensed by a state or locality to carry a firearm”

Fight Inequality:

* “Make the wealthy on Wall Street pay their fair share. […] Repeal [the] Citizens United [Supreme Court decision]. Reject donations from corporate PACs and lobbyists.”

LGBTQ Rights:

* “Fight for federal legislation against discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations, military, government, and around the world. Oppose religious exemptions that deny services to LGBTQ people.”

Endorsements for Bowman

Bowman’s campaign was endorsed by such organizations as Justice Democrats, the Sunrise Movement, Brand New Congress, the New York Working Families Party, Our Revolution, The Jewish Vote, and the Progressive Democrats of America. Bowman was also endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio-CortezBernie SandersElizabeth Warren, and the editorial board of The New York Times.

Favorable Press Coverage

Bowman received mostly favorable treatment from the press during his campaign. According to PoliticNation.com, the media portrayed Bowman in a positive light 86% of the time.

Bowman Endorses The People’s Charter

Bowman was an endorser of The People’s Charter, which was released in October 2020 by the Working Families Party. Some notable excerpts and policy prescriptions from that document:

  • “Extend expanded $600 per week Unemployment Insurance until there are jobs for people to return to. Make sure it’s available to everyone, regardless of immigration status.”
  • “No evictions, foreclosures, or utility shut-offs during the [COVID-19] pandemic. Cancel rent and suspend debt payments until jobs return.”
  • “Care for parents, kids and teachers by delaying school reopening until the virus subsides and schools have the resources to do so safely. Ensure every student learning from home has the devices, nutrition and accommodations they need.”
  • “Direct federal funding to states and cities to prevent layoffs and cuts to schools, hospitals, and other public services when we need them most.”
  • “Invest $1 trillion per year for the next ten years to put 15 million people to work immediately — upgrading our broken infrastructure, modernizing and retrofitting millions of homes and buildings, caring for children, seniors and the disabled, protecting and restoring forests and wetlands, creating opportunities for family farmers and rural communities, and revitalizing American manufacturing.”
  • “Raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour everywhere.”
  • “Make health care free and universal, and take hospital and health insurance profits out of it.”
  • “Ensure [that] every worker who wants a union can join one.”
  • “Guarantee universal child care, paid family and medical leave and paid sick days, and income support for parents taking care of kids full time.”
  • “Provide safe, affordable housing for all.”
  • “Guarantee home and community based services for everyone, including mental health care.”
  • “Cancel student debt, an unfair burden on working and middle class young adults.”
  • “Tax the giant corporations who don’t pay their share, and the wealth of the billionaires, who have gotten richer during the worst economic collapse in 90 years.”
  • “Invest now to make our food, water, electricity, health, financial and other systems resilient to future crises like climate change.”
  • “Create public banks to make needed investments whenever private markets fail to.”
  • “Give the public ownership stakes in all corporations receiving bailouts.”
  • “Instead of subsidizing and bailing out oil and gas companies, buy them out, to further our transition away from fossil fuels and towards regenerative energy sources.”
  • “Prioritize investments in the poor and working-class communities, especially communities of color, which have historically suffered most from pollution.”
  • “Save the USPS [United States Postal Service] to ensure we can vote by mail.”

Bowman Wins Election to Congress (2020)

In November 2020, Bowman defeated Engel in the Democratic primary by a margin of 55.4% to 40.6%. He then trounced Conservative Party candidate Patrick McMaunus 84% to 15.8% in the general election.

Bowman Supports the Defunding of Police Departments

In December 2020 interview with CNN’s Dana Bash, Bowman said that the slogan “Defund the Police” — a policy that he favored — meant “reimaging our country” by implementing “a dramatic reduction in the number of police in our poor communities and. particularly, our poor black and brown communities.” He also said:

  • “Historically, when our communities have needed jobs, they didn’t bring us jobs. They brought us police, and they created a system of mass incarceration.”
  • “We live in a country where if you’re black or brown, you’re more likely to be killed by police and more likely to be incarcerated, and more likely to not afford bail.”
  • “Only five percent of police work is focused on violent crimes — rape, homicide, aggravated assault. The other 95 percent can be handled by other agencies, mental health institutions, domestic violence professionals, etc.”
  • “We’ve been doing policing all wrong for decades. In some cities, 40 percent of the budget goes toward policing, and police are terrorizing black and brown communities. So we have to do something different and not allow Republicans to flip a talking point on its head.”

Equating Capitalism with Slavery

In December 2020, Bowman said in an interview with The Root “I believe our current system of capitalism is slavery by another name. We’ve moved from physical chattel enslavement and physical racial segregation to a plantation economic system. One that keeps the majority of Americans unemployed, or underemployed and struggling just to survive, while the power elite continues to concentrate wealth in the hands of a few, and allow large corporations to pretty much run the world as multinational corporations. The pandemic has revealed it. With almost 300,000 dead from the pandemic, disproportionately black and brown, and Jeff Bezos is the first $200 billionaire. In the next six years, he might become the first trillionaire. That’s slavery by another name. It’s a system that’s not working, so we need a new system.”

Bowman Joins “The Squad”

In the same interview, Bowman said that former President Barack Obama had been too conservative during his tenure in the White House. “I don’t think Obama is the standard we should be striving towards,” he asserted. “I think the Squad” — a small group of far-left Democratic legislators originally consisting of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley — “is more of a standard we should be striving towards because I think the Squad is more responsive to what’s happening today in our streets. I think Obama represents a certain demographic of the Democratic Party, but the Democratic Party is a big and diverse tent. I think the Squad and myself represent more of what’s happening right now in the party, on the ground, in the streets—particularly with parts of the community that we haven’t always engaged very well.”

Upon being sworn in to Congress in January 2021, Bowman, along with the also-newly-elected Mondaire Jones, became one of the first two male members of The Squad. Former Black Lives Matter activist Cori Bush of Missouri was also elected to Congress in 2020 and became the seventh member of The Squad.

Bowman Joins the Congressional Progressive, Black, & LGBT+ Equality Caucuses

Soon after taking office in the U.S. House, Bowman also joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus.

Blaming President Trump & White Racism for the January 6, 2021 Protest at the U.S. Capitol

Shortly after a January 6, 2021 incident where several hundred people claiming to be Donald Trump supporters had temporarily occupied the U.S. Capitol building in Washington to protest what they viewed as a stolen presidential election, Bowman introduced the Congressional Oversight of Unjust Policing Act (COUP Act) in the U.S. House. The bill called for the establishment of a Commission to investigate: (a) how the Capitol Police had handled the crisis, and (b) potential ties that some Capitol Police officers may have had to white nationalism. “How does it happen that a group of armed, violent insurrectionists are able to march into one of the most secure buildings on Earth and force members of Congress to hide under their desks?” Bowman wrote in a press release. “This is not entirely a story of incompetence on the part of law enforcement, and we have to ask: Did some of those charged with protecting us willingly lay down their posts? Was there a coordinated effort to take over the United States government with violence? Why wasn’t there a coordinated effort from the beginning with other members of law enforcement?” Asserting also that racism had played a role in influencing how law-enforcement had treated the January 6th protesters, Bowman added that the passage of his COUP Act was “critical when you look at the disparity in terms of how the Capitol Police responded to the insurrection on [January 6], versus how they responded to—not just [Black Lives Matter] protestors this [past] summer [in 2020], but other people of color, and people who are disabled, historically.”

In a tweet that he posted on January 8, 2021 – two days after the aforementioned temporary occupation of the Capitol building – Bowman, blaming Trump for the mayhem of January 6 — urged Twitter to block the president’s account: “@Twitter why is Donald Trump still out here tweeting after inciting a fascist mob? Suspend his account!” When Twitter subsequently declared, later on January 8, that it was permanently banning Trump from its platform, Bowman celebrated by likening that announcement to former U.S. Administrator Paul Bremer’s announcement, more than 17 years earlier, that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had been captured. Specifically, Bowman posted a video of the moment Bremer had said at a press conference in December 2003: “Ladies and gentlemen, we got him.”

In a January 18, 2021 appearance on the MSNBC program All In, Bowman, citing the January 6 protest at the Capitol as evidence of America’s intransigent white racism, said: “[T]his is a chance for all of us in Congress to sort of begin at a new baseline and stop spreading the myth of American exceptionalism and accept the fact that this is exactly who we are and this [a racist country] is exactly who we have been throughout our country’s history. Whenever there’s social progress, there’s white backlash, particularly from the people who believe that this needs to remain a white-dominant nation, and they are afraid of the multi-racial democracy that we are becoming. Right after we send our first African American and Jewish senators in Georgia to the Senate, right after that, the day after, we have an attack on the Capitol. This is a new baseline. And now we have to deal with the issue of white nationalism seriously in police departments, but also throughout all of America’s institutions.”

Bowman Opposes Standardized Testing in Schools

In a March 2, 2021 tweet, Bowman condemned standardized testing in education as “a pillar of systemic racism.” He also linked to a 2018 article from the National Education Association titled “The Racist Beginnings of Standardized Testing.” Said the article, which lauded the writings of Ibram X. Kendi: “Since their inception almost a century ago, the tests have been instruments of racism and a biased system. Decades of research demonstrate that Black, Latin(o/a/x), and Native students, as well as students from some Asian groups, experience bias from standardized tests administered from early childhood through college.”

Bowman Signs Letter Opposing Private Prisons & ICE

Bowman was one of numerous Democrat signatories to a March 15, 2021 letter written by Rep. Ilhan Omar and addressed to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice. The letter praised President Joe Biden for his January 26 Executive Order to phase out the use of private detention facilities, and urged the Biden Administration “to release an additional Executive Order announcing a plan to phase out contracts between ICE and state, county, and local jails and prisons.” Such facilities, the Democrats explained, “mirror the systemic abuses in privately operated immigration detention facilities, including medical neglect, long term use of solitary confinement, sexual assault, and lack of access to legal counsel.” Additional signers of Omar’s letter included such notables as Reps. Cori BushMark PocanAlexandria Ocasio-CortezAyanna PressleyRashida TlaibAndre CarsonRaul GrijalvaAdriano EspaillatPramila JayapalBarbara LeeAlan LowenthalCarolyn MaloneyJames McGovernEleanor Holmes NortonJan SchakowskyNydia VelazquezDebbie Wasserman Schultz, and Bonnie Watson Coleman.

Bowman Co-Sponsors a Bill to Limit U.S. Aid to Israel

In April 2021, Bowman co-sponsored H.R. 2590 — The Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act — introduced by Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum. The bill called for the U.S. to stop sending the Israeli government any money that could possibly be used “to support the military detention or ill-treatment of Palestinian children; the seizure, appropriation, or destruction of Palestinian property and forcible transfer of civilians in the occupied West Bank; or to facilitate further unilateral annexation of Palestinian land by the Israeli government in violation of international humanitarian law.” Other co-sponsors of this bill were Representatives Bobby RushDanny Davis, Andre Carson, Marie Newman, Ilhan Omar, Mark Pocan, Raul Grijalva, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna PressleyCori BushAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jesus Garcia, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Pramila Jayapal, Earl Blumenauer, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Dwight Evans, Jared Huffman, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Chellie Pingree, Peter Welch, Judy Chu, Donald Payne Jr., Lisa Blunt Rochester, Mark DeSaulnier, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, Donald Beyer, and Stephen Lynch.

Bowman Accuses Israel of Abusing & Killing the “Black and Brown Bodies” of Palestinians

In May 2021, Bowman demanded that Israel stop brutalizing and murdering the “black and brown bodies” of Palestinians.

Bowman Defends Ilhan Omar’s Statement Likening the U.S. & Israel to Hamas & the Taliban

While questioning Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a video call on June 7, 2021, Rep. Ilhan Omar said: “We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.” In response to Omar’s remarks, twelve Jewish Democrat members of the U.S. House criticized the congresswoman for “equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban.” Bowman defended Omar: “When a woman, person of color or Muslim speaks out against injustice, backlash ensues,” he wrote on Twitter. “When @IlhanMN speaks out, the vitriol is compounded by her being all three. As Democrats, we must recognize the biases that fuel personal attacks and defend our colleagues.”

Bowman Participates in Protest Supporting the Green New Deal

At a June 28, 2021 event organized by the Sunrise Movement, Bowman joined numerous other protesters in blocking every entrance to the White House as they demanded that the Biden Administration adopt an infrastructure plan prioritizing the Green New Deal agenda targeting climate change. Dozens of the protesters were arrested.

Condemning America’s Allegedly Intransigent Racism

On July 4, 2021, Bowman tweeted: “Let us reflect on the full story of America today. Black people were not freed in 1776. Despite a system stacked against us, we must continue to use our collective power to change that system.”

Bowman Introduces the Green New Deal For Public Schools Act

On July 16, 2021, Bowman introduced a “Green New Deal for Public Schools Act.” At a cost of some $1.43 trillion over a ten-year period, the legislation included such provisions as:

  • $446 billion for Climate Capital Facilities Grants to cover the costs of retrofitting public school buildings nationwide
  • $250 billion in Resource Block Grants, to help “fund staffing increases, expanded social service programming, and curriculum development at high-need schools”
  • $695 billion for Title I and IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) increases

Bowman’s bill also called for the creation of an Office of Sustainable Schools within the Department of Education. The Washington Post reported that this office would not only work with the Energy Department to make school buildings more energy efficient, but would also help “cover climate resilience efforts such as building out broadband infrastructure and EV [electric vehicle] charging stations, and garden and tree planting.” Co-sponsors of the bill included Cori BushIlhan OmarMark PocanAlexandria Ocasio-CortezAyanna PressleyRashida TlaibAndre CarsonRaul GrijalvaAdriano EspaillatPramila JayapalBarbara LeeAlan LowenthalCarolyn MaloneyJames McGovernEleanor Holmes NortonJan SchakowskyNydia VelazquezDebbie Wasserman SchultzBonnie Watson ColemanFrederica WilsonJuan VargasJamie RaskinAdriano EspaillatNanette Diaz BarraganBennie Thompson,  Yvette ClarkeDanny DavisThomas SuozziTony CardenasJerrold NadlerJared HuffmanSteve CohenJose Luis CorreaTed LieuJimmy GomezSheila Jackson LeeChellie PingreeGrace Napolitano, and Donald Payne Jr.

Bowman Supports Packing of the Supreme Court with Leftwing Activist Judges

In September 2021, after the Supreme Court chose not to block the formal enactment of a newly passed Texas law restricting the performance of abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, Bowman called for the abolition of the Senate filibuster and the expansion of the Supreme Court. “For 48 years, Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land in America,” he wrote on Twitter. “Republicans on the Supreme Court just effectively struck it down. They’re not playing by the rules, and it’s time for the President and Senate to act to save lives. Expand the Court.”

A Shouting Bowman Tells Republican Congresswoman to Leave NY

When Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (of Georgia) was in New York City on April 4, 2023 to speak out against Democratic Party policies as well as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg‘s decision to indict and arraign former President Donald Trump, Bowman shouted that Greene should keep quiet and leave New York immediately. Said Bowman to news cameras at the scene: “Do your freaking job, Marjorie Taylor Greene. You don’t need to be in New York City talking that nonsense. Go back to your district! What are you doing here? You’re here for politics. You’re here cause you want to be VP. You’re here for your own fundraising. You’re here for your own nonsense!” Added Bowman:

  • “Marjorie Taylor Greene needs to take her ass back to Washington. And do something about gun violence. Do something about affordable housing. Do something about childhood poverty. Do something climate change.”
  • “I was born and raised in New York City. This is the city that I love. This is a city focused on hard work and love for all people. We will never accept hateful rhetoric in our city – any rhetoric that is divisive, any rhetoric that uplifts White supremacy. We are pushing back against that in all its forms.”
  • “New York City stood up to Marjorie Taylor Greene today to let her know get the hell out of here. Don’t open one word in our freaking city.”

Co-Sponsoring a Bill to Prevent Prosecutors from Using Rappers’ Violent Lyrics As Evidence Against Them in Court

On April 27, 2023, Bowman and fellow House Member Hank Johnson Jr. announced that they were reintroducing the Restoring Artistic Protection Act, or RAP Act, which they had first introduced during the previous Congress. The purpose of the bill, which had failed to gain traction in its first inarnation, was to prevent prosecutors from using the violent lyrics of musical artists as evidence against them in criminal and civil proceedings — a practice most commonly employed in cases involving defendants who were rap or hip-hop artists. Fox News provided context for the legislation by explaining how it would apply to the then-ongoing case against Grammy-winning rapper Jeffery Lamar Williams, better known as Young Thug, who had recently been charged with racketeering, gang activity, and illegal possession of a gun:

“Prosecutors allege Williams’ record label, Young Stoner Life (YSL), operated as a front for an organized crime syndicate responsible for ‘75 to 80% of violent crime’ in Atlanta, according to reports. Court documents detail instances in which individuals allegedly associated with the YSL gang wore or displayed symbols of ‘YSL’ in music videos posted on social media between 2016 and 2021 and rapped lyrics that mention ‘YSL’ or various descriptions of criminal activity, according to a local ABC report.

“In the 56-count indictment, prosecutors cite Williams’ songs in the same time frame, including Young Thug’s hit ‘Anybody’ and several numbers from YSL’s 2020 compilation album ‘Slime Language 2,’ including ‘Take It to Trial,’ ‘Ski’ and ‘Slatty.’  Court documents quote the song ‘Slatty’ as saying, ‘I killed his man in front of his momma, like f— lil bruh, sister and his cousin,’ ‘I shoot out,’ and ‘kill em, not leaving a trace.’ Prosecutors argue that the lyrics served in ‘[p]reserving, protecting and enhancing the reputation, power and territory of the enterprise [YSL].’”

“Rap, hip-hop and every lyrical musical piece is a beautiful form of art and expression that must be protected,” Bowman said in a statement. “Evidence shows when juries believe lyrics to be rap lyrics, there’s a tendency to presume it’s a confession, whereas lyrics for other genres of music are understood to be art, not factual reporting. This act would ensure that our evidentiary standards protect the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. We cannot imprison our talented artists for expressing their experiences nor will we let their creativity be suppressed.”

Condemning the Killing of a Mentally Ill Black Man Aboard a Subway Train

On May 1, 2023, a 30-year-old homeless black man named Jordan Neely — who was afflicted with autism and schizophrenia and had a rap sheet that included at least 42 arrests — marched back and forth inside a New York City subway car while he ranted and screamed at the other passengers. At one point, according to a subsequent report by a fellow passenger named Juan Alberto Vasquez, Neely yelled: “I don’t have food, I don’t have a drink, I’m fed up. I don’t mind going to jail and getting life in prison. I’m ready to die.”  Then, as Neely’s actions became increasingly menacing, a white U.S. Marine veteran aboard the train took him down and placed him in a ckokehold — a move that resulted in Neely’s death.

In response to the incident, an outraged Bowman posted a tweet that said: “Black men seem to always be choked to death . . . Jordan Neely did not have to die. It’s as simple as that . . . Yet we have another Black man publicly executed.”

“Reparations Now” Resolution to Compensate Blacks for Slavery & Jim Crow

On May 17, 2023, Bowman joined with fellow House Members Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush, and Summer Lee in unveiling a “Reparations Now” resolution seeking $14 trillion from Congress to compensate present-day black Americans for the allegedly enduring historical effects that slavery and the Jim Crow era had set in motion.

Further Reading

“Jamaal Bowman” (Votesmart.org, KeyWiki, UCEA.org)

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