Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Conference Hits 40th Year

NNPA Staff Report | 9/22/2010, 2:17 p.m.

For the second year in a row, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle attended the annual Congressional Black Caucus
Foundation Gala. The Gala is the last event of the annual Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference, which is celebrating its 40th year.

The annual legislative conference is one of the nation's largest gatherings of African Americans. More than 18,000 business leaders, celebrities, and civil activists convened in Washington for the event, which was sponsored by hundreds of corporations, organizations, and city and state governments.

Much like his speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, President Obama emphasized the importance of voter turnout for the 2010 mid-term as Democrats struggle to hold on to majorities in Congress.

"I need everybody here to go back to your neighborhoods, to go back to your workplaces, to go to churches, and go to the barbershops, and go to the beauty shops, and tell them we've got more work to do," President Obama told the crowd at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Along with a majority of 42 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the audience included public officials from national, state, and local communities.

Seated alongside the political heavy-hitters were entertainment personalities, including actor Chris Tucker, singer Harry Belafonte, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Attorney General Eric Holder, Roland Martin, writer Michael Eric Dyson, and singer John Legend.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) received one of the loudest ovations from the crowd, as the CBC members were individually introduced. The California Democrat audience seemed to show support for Waters, who is in the midst of an investigation by the House Ethics Committee and a pending ethics trial.

Highlights of the legislative conference included a Government Procurement Fair featuring information on how to do business with more than 20 government agencies, hosted by Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA); an issue forum by Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) on the challenges facing the first African American in the White House; and an issue forum on minority owned lending institutions by Rep. Waters.

Additionally, a detailed issue forum on gang prevention featuring the CBC bill with the most co-sponsors (235), the Youth PROMISE Act, was detailed and hosted by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA.). There were also a myriad of other seminars and braintrusts featuring topics of importance in the Black community in education, job employment.

An issue forum on the needs of the faith-based community hosted by Rep. Elijah Cumming, (D-MD) was a popular session as attendees heard advice regarding the needs of Black churches as they deal with local lending institutions during hard economic times.

Though most of the time at the conference was spent on issue forums and their related events, there were also a host of social gatherings by members.
As the CBC enters its 41st year next year, there are likely to be at least two Black Republican members elected in November.

With a possible shift of control to the Republicans in the U.S. House, this may mean a big change in the balance of power for members of the CBC, who now hold the chairmanships of three full standing House committees and more than 25 subcommittee chairs.