On the evening of December 6th, 2011, after a devastating report of the National Committee Meeting of the Young Democrats of America, Ra Shad Gaines, former National Committee member of YDA and Immediate Past President of the South Carolina Young Democrats decided to gather the minds and scheduled the first teleconference call to discuss the scope and breadth of a subgroup of member of the National Committee and general membership of YDA and the path for creation and ratification of what would become the Black Caucus of the Young Democrats of America.
The first call was held on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 from 11:00PM until 12:11AM EST. The first attendees were: Neal Carter, Briana Cartwright, Ra Shad Frazier-Gaines, Kristen Gadlin, Lakia Gray, and Joshua Waters. During the creation process, the following would join the steering committee as co-founders of our fair caucus: Tristan Breaux, Colmon Elridge, Joseph Kitchen, Daniel Sims, Montica Talmadge, and Nicole Williams.
After a hefty fight within the YDA Minority Caucus and an appeal made by Joseph Kitchen, President of the Young Democrats of America, before the YDA Executive Committee, working group status was granted upon the completion of the YDA National Committee meeting in July of 2012 in Philadelphia, PA, where Montica Talmadge would be elected as the first African-American to represent YDA at the Democratic National Committee. After much controversy, under the leadership of YDA President Rod Snyder, Attorney Nicole Williams of Maryland was appointed Chair of the YDA Black Working Group along with Clayton DeSouza (NC), Ra Shad Frazier-Gaines (SC), Kristen Gadlin (OK), and DaQavise Winston (IN) serving as members, co-appointed by President Snyder and Minority Caucus Chair Ralph Johnson. Ra Shad Frazier-Gaines would write the Constitution, Bylaws, and Program of Work that would be submitted for the working group to obtain Provisional Caucus status and Caucus status as later meetings.
July 2, 2013 in Charleston, West Virginia, the YDA Executive Committee granted provisional caucus status to the Black Working Group and during that National Committee meeting, Attorney Nicole Williams would be elected Chairman; Ra Shad Frazier-Gaines, Vice Chairman; Kristen Gadlin, Vice Chairman, and Briana Cartwright, Treasurer. WV State Representative Meshea Poore would be the caucus’s first guest speaker and caucus members would attend its first worship service with her at the First Baptist Church.
At the Young Democrats of America bi-annual convention in San Antonio, Texas, full rights and privileges were awarded with caucus status. Ra Shad Frazier-Gaines (SC) would be elected Chairman; Kenya Parham (CA), Vice Chairman; Maurice Simpson Jr (MD), Vice Chairman; and Lakia Gray, Treasurer (OH).
In November 2013, the caucus officers would travel to Seattle, Washington to install its first administration’s cabinet members, host a back to school supply drive for King County School District, and host Vice Mayor Victoria Woodard of Tacoma as the guest speaker of its Celebration Luncheon.
Chaplain: Ta Sha Barber
Civic Engagement Coordinator: Bridgemon Bolger
Logistic Coordinator: Jovan Frinks
Outreach Director: Ashley Nealy
Policy Director: Antwain Leach
Political Director: David Adam Madsen
Southeast Region Coordinator: Brittany Haugabook
In Charleston, SC in February of 2014, the caucus would celebrate Black History Month through live music and entertainment with rising artist Eli Montgomery and the Musicated Minor & would kick off Women’s History Month with the Ides of March with YDA’s Women’s and Disability Caucuses.
In November of 2014, Chairman Frazier-Gaines would travel to Ferguson, Missouri to meet with leaders and activists in preparation for ReUp Ferguson, where caucus leadership would train local elected officials and community members interested in running for office. This monumental event would be co-facilitated and sponsored by MO State Representatives Courtney Curtis and Tommie Pierson. Over 40 people would be in attendance.
In March of 2015, Chairman Gaines would represent the caucus at the 50th Anniversary Jubilee Celebration of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. Chairman Frazier-Gaines would speak during the Hip Hop Summit/Teen Summit and with other youth leaders and activists after the bridge crossing, his photo would be captured by photojournalists of him holding the loud speaker on the bridge during the rally as the Foot Soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement and elders spoke.
In August of 2015, YDA would hold its biannual convention in Los Angeles, CA. California Young Democrats Black Caucus Chairman would be appointed as the Chair of the caucus’ convention task force. The caucus would award Congressman Maxine Waters with its inaugural Trailblazer Award during its welcome reception. During our Chairman’s address, he would challenge caucus members to embrace our positions within political structures and to leverage our power to engage elected officials and party leaders to create political dialog and policy around black lives in justice, equity, and parity in criminal justice reform, education, housing, and jobs. During the election, Ra Shad Frazier-Gaines would be elected as Chairman (SC); Bridgemon Bolger, Vice Chairman (GA); London Lamar, Vice Chairman (TN); and Joshua Clennon, Treasurer (NY). Ra Shad Frazier-Gaines, would also be elected as Chairman of the YDA Minority Caucus, of which he would dissolve during the convention.