The National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) recently named state Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago, to co-chair the NBCSL Agriculture and Conservation policy committee.
“I’m proud to build on my position as the first African American woman to serve as chairperson of the Illinois House Agriculture & Conservation Committee to help lead NBCSL’s agricultural policy committee,” Harper said. “In my role helping lead the NBCSL agricultural policy committee, I will use lessons learned from Illinois to help raise awareness of agricultural issues and opportunities that impact black communities.”
NBCSL is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to serving as a network for information sharing, public policy development, and shared action on issues relevant to black state legislators and the constituencies they represent. NBCSL develops and conducts educational programs and training seminars in order help African American state legislators enhance their policy portfolios and become more effective as legislators. The Agriculture and Conservation policy committee of NBCSL works to increase awareness of career and employment opportunities in the agricultural sector and reduce the presence of food deserts and food insecurity in underserved communities. The committee also works to address environmental justice and create economic opportunities for black farmers.
Harper is a longtime advocate for utilizing urban agriculture to create jobs, increase economic growth, and promote healthy living in underserved communities. She served as director of Grow Greater Englewood and outreach manager at Growing Home, organizations dedicated to developing urban farms, community gardens, and other environmentally-friendly and sustainable urban agricultural opportunities.
“Organizations like NBCSL provide important opportunities for legislators across America to develop innovative solutions to problems shared by communities across the country and learn about how other states are addressing agricultural issues in black communities,” Harper said. “I look forward to working with colleagues from across the country to reduce hunger and food insecurity and promote the role of African Americans in agriculture.
Harper represents the 6th District, which includes all or portions of Armour Square, Bridgeport, Chicago Lawn, Englewood, Gage Park, Back of the Yards, Canaryville, New City, West Englewood, Marquette Park, South Loop and River North.