June 25, 2015


By Danny J. Bakewell 

Executive Editor


Leadership within the African American Community is split over the issue of required immunizations in the State of California. 


California Legislative Bill SB 277, requiring all children to be vaccinated, has been introduced and has been endorsed by several members of the California Legislative Black Caucus, however leadership within the Nation of Islam and several other community healthcare advocates have called it into question and denounced the idea of making it a state law.


Nation of Islam Western Regional Minister Tony Muhammad has demanded that local legislators reverse course on their support of the bill and is threatening supporters with political fallout.  Minister Tony has called support of SB277 “a Traitorous Act”.


SB277 was introduced by Democratic Senators. Richard Pan, from Sacramento, and Benjamin Allen, from Santa Monica.  “Richard Pan has received over $100,000 in contributions and is strongly supported by the pharmaceutical companies who want to see this legislation approved”  Stated Minister Muham­mad who was returning from Atlanta where he and Minister Farrakhan were soliciting support for the Anniversary of the Million Man March Movement as well as gathering support from hip hop artist in support of both the march and the anti-mandatory immunization initiative.


 “As members of the California Legislative Black Caucus, we support, sponsor and advocate on behalf of state policies that strengthen and educate the African American Community in the following areas:  Education, Black Enterprise, Public Safety and especially health,” The California Legislative Black Caucus through its Chairman Reggie Jones-Sawyer said via a recently released statement.


“I applaud the community for this robust discussion around health and safety issues. We need this input and involvement on all issues surrounding our community... health, safety, jobs and education,” said Senator Isadore Hall, CLBC vice chair 


Obviously the health and safety of our community is of most importance to me. I'm certainly supportive of sitting down to review hard facts and evidence that would substantiate these claims.  


If in, fact what is being said is true I'm prepared to lead the charge to stop this legislation from moving through and or being signed by the Governor.  


Ultimately, we've got to make sure our children are safe, healthy and are provided for in the best way possible.


In a recent speech Minister Muhammad said he and other religious leaders are concerned that some vaccines may harm young African American males.  He compared SB277 to the government’s Tuskegee Syphilis Study, in which federal researchers, in the 1930s, withheld treatment from African American men.


 “Unfortunately, recent attacks on the measure have been vicious, unfounded and distort the science and history of childhood immunization within our community,” members of the California State Conference of the NAACP, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Charles R. Drew Medical Society, the California Black Health Network and the Network of Ethnic Physician Organizations said in a statement.


 “Our organizations denounce assertions that vaccination of black children would be another Tuskegee experiment.”


The issue has generated heated debate for months as hundreds of parents have attended public hearings to protest the measure, arguing that the state should not interfere with their decisions about what medical treatment to provide their children.


The bill passed through the Senate, with senators Hall and Holly J. Mitchell voting to support the bill.


African American groups supporting the bill stood in support of the California Black Caucus and worked to reassure the members that supporting the bill was the right thing and in the best interest of young people throughout the state and within the African American Community.


“As legislative deliberations continue, we hope the California Legislative Black Caucus members know that recriminations against those supporting the bill by opponents do not represent us,” the groups said.


The caucus issued a statement saying that the bill, SB 277, is good for public health.


“Several members of the CLBC served on various policy committees that reviewed the measure in depth.  We have collectively spent hundreds of hours reviewing medical research, meeting with medical and public health professionals, parents and advocates.  We feel that SB 277 was thoroughly vetted, and we stand by the positions of our individual members on the measure.”

Category: Health