Members of the Congressional Black Caucus were joined by rapper and actor T.I. and radio host Charlamagne Tha God while advocating on Capitol Hill Wednesday for investments in black communities, economic development and closing the wage gap.

The lawmakers and entertainers praised efforts to create opportunity zones, an initiative established by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that incentivizes investment in low-income communities.

Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, applauded celebrities and local politicians involved in promoting policies and working to bring about upward economic mobility and enhance poverty-stricken areas.

“We have to make sure, as has already been said, that the community impact and those that are in the communities, that these developments are seeking to benefit, that they’re really at the forefront,” he said at a press conference. “And that’s what our congressional hearings on the Ways and Means Committee will focus on.”

T.I. — who along with Charlamagne Tha God also met with lawmakers in the upper chamber — highlighted the work of late musician Nipsey Hussle, who was scheduled to come to Capitol Hill ahead of his death in March, in leading the efforts to rebuild underprivileged areas through opportunity zones, adding he hopes to help carry out Hussle’s mission.

“Everybody knows that Nipsey was pretty much the founder of the idea to bring everyone together who, you know, may individually be able to do great things and make a significant impact on their own in their communities,” he said. “But for us to come together, we can impact so, so many more communities and spread our efforts so much wider.”

Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-N.Y.), a former rapper, said he is enthusiastic about pushing it forward, adding he believes those “who come from these areas, who know the community” need to have some skin in the game for the initiative to be successful.

“We spoke about opportunity zones. You’re talking about not just an opportunity for folks who have been marginalized or exploited or left behind, you’re also talking about opportunity for hip-hop,” he said. “Because what hip-hop has done over its lifetime, has put brothers and sisters who’ve come from tough circumstances in a position to elevate their individual lives and at times their communities.”

Extending opportunity zones is a proposal that has seen bipartisan support; Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) are leading the efforts on legislation in the Senate.

Source: The Hill