Two senators — Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California — will serve as honorary co-chairs of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Inc.’s 48th Annual Legislative Conference scheduled Sept. 12-16 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest.
It will mark the first time that co-chairs will come from the Senate. Historically, members of the U.S. House of Representatives have served that role.
The premier conference, which annually attracts nearly 10,000 people from across the world and is the only event of its kind in the United States, will have the theme, “The Dream Still Demands Courage, Resilience, Leadership and Legislation.”
The five-day conference offers more than 90 forums on public policy issues affecting black Americans.
“For more than 40 years, the Annual Legislative Conference has provided an extraordinary platform for people — domestic and abroad — to come together and discuss vital issues related to social justice, leadership, economic prosperity, entrepreneurship and much more,” said Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, chair of the CBCF board of directors. “As we continue to grow and expand the conference, we know that we must be unwavering in our approach to have the difficult conversations, elevate debates about the state of Black America, and also define new and innovative solutions.”
The impact of civil and social movements over the past 50 years has played a major role in changing the trajectory of American history, CBCF officials said.
This year’s theme focuses on the influence and legacy of these moments, while uplifting present-day champions in the fight for racial equality, justice and freedom.
“As we approach the 48th year of hosting the Annual Legislative Conference, we find ourselves in a critical time where, now more than ever, diverse voices are imperative to the future of this nation,” said A. Shuanise Washington, president and CEO of the CBCF. “We must rise to meet the demands of the moment and capitalize on actionable outcomes that will advance black Americans and move this country forward.”
During the conference, attendees will have the opportunity to delve into important conversations with industry leaders from across the globe on public health, gender equality, social mobility, LGBTQ rights and environmental sustainability, among many other topics.
The conference provides a safe haven for Black Americans to contribute their experiences, knowledge and opinions to a larger, national dialogue, Washington said.
“The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference is among the most important annual gatherings for Black Americans, and I am honored to lead its 48th convening with Senator Harris,” Booker said. “The Conference theme, ‘The Dream Still Demands,’ presents an important opportunity for our community to lead the national dialogue on so many pressing issues, from fixing our broken criminal justice system to creating economic opportunities for communities of color.
“We have so many urgent challenges that must be addressed, and I’m looking forward to hearing from all of the incredible leaders who will be participating in the conference,” he said.
The conference is also a time to network and enjoy connecting with a diverse group of individuals, officials said.
Networking and special events include the Exhibit Showcase with an onsite employment fair and free health screenings; the Prayer Breakfast; National Town Hall; Gospel Extravaganza; the Annual Celebration of Leadership in the Fine Arts, which honors the contributions of individuals in the performing and visual arts who have influenced Black history and inspired generations; and the culminating event, the Phoenix Awards Dinner, which supports the CBCF’s mission-critical programs including education, economic development, health and research.
“The Annual Legislative Conference, over nearly five decades, has brought together some of the country’s greatest leaders, innovators and job creators to address the most pressing issues facing black America,” Harris said. “This year is no exception. The conference will provide a platform to advocate for the voiceless, the vulnerable, and all who believe in fulfilling the American promise of equality and justice for all. I look forward to confronting these issues head-on and working to create solutions that will lead to lasting change.”