An estimated group of more than 10,000 people filled the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the nation’s capital during the just completed five-day Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s (CBCF) 2019 Annual Legislative Conference (ALC).
This year’s ALC theme, “400 Years: Our Legacy, Our Possibilities …” observed 400 years of the first enslaved African to land in Jamestown, Virginia.
“Our Annual Legislative Conference is a gathering to develop solutions to the challenges facing Black communities around the world through issues forums, brain trusts, a town hall meeting, networking sessions and more,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-CA).
The conference included town halls on Black men and boys and a Sojourner Truth Town Hall titled, “Bridging Pathways for Black Women in Leadership and Politics.”
“The contributions of Black women in shaping and changing the world for the better are often minimized. At every moment in history, Black women have worked alongside their more famous male counterparts to advance political movements,” Bass said.
CBCF officials added that the goal of the Sojourner Truth Town Hall served as an opportunity to showcase and to increase the significant contributions of and numbers within a growing surge of Black women in leadership.
It also aimed at building a stronger infrastructure of support for Black women candidates and their role in bridging gender equity, voter participation, economic empowerment, access to health care and criminal justice reform as the Blacks look to 2020 and beyond.
Among the highlights of issues discussed: closing the racial wealth gap; the state of housing in Black America; Black money matters; a financial services brain trust; and a national town hall that focused on the possibilities within the Black community as well as those challenges still faced.
“We cannot give up hope because every time we fight, we win,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, who served as a panelist on a two-part national town hall that explored the possibilities and challenges facing African Americans.
Meanwhile, National Newspaper Publishers Association [NNPA] Chair Karen Carter Richards and NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., led a contingent of publishers to the Cuban Embassy where Ambassador José Ramón Cabañas greeted them.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee later joined leaders from the organization at the Embassy.
During a CBCF panel, moderated by Chavis and hosted by Pennsylvania Congressman Dwight Evans, the focus turned to Black businesses and their survival.
The panel’s theme: “Nation Building Through the Black Business Community: The Next 50 Years.”
Panelists included: Ron Busby, Sr., president, founder and CEO, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.; Economist and former Bennett College President Dr. Julianne M. Malveaux; Black Enterprise Senior Vice President and Editor-At-Large Alfred A. Edmond Jr.; and The Enterprise Center President, Della Clark.
“This is a vital issue,” Chavis said. “For the discussion, we wanted to come after this from different perspectives; this proved to be an important, eye-opening conversation,” he said.
The 2019 NNPA National Leadership Awards would also be announced during the week.
Awards went to the following: the Honorable Karen Bass, U.S. Representative (D-CA); the Honorable Elijah E. Cummings, U.S. Representative (D-MD); the Honorable Bobby Scott, U.S. Representative (D-VA); the Honorable Bennie Thompson, U.S. Representative (D-MS); Ray Curry, Secretary-Treasurer of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agriculture (UAW); Shani W. Hosten, Vice President Multicultural Leadership, AARP; Dr. Kim Smith-Whitley, Clinical Director of Hematology and Director of the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP); and Crystal Windham, director, Cadillac Interior Design, General Motors.
Carter Richards, the current NNPA chair; Cloves Campbell, former chair; Denise Rolark Barnes, former chair and Informer publisher; Chavis and several other NNPA publishers attended the Phoenix Awards, an evening during which the CBCF confers its highest honor.
Presented during a gala hosted by journalist Isha Sesay and actor Omar Dorsey, Phoenix Award recipients included: Dr. Calvin Mackie; Dr. Wanda Austin; Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA); The Exonerated (Central Park) Five; and the Rev. Al Sharpton.
“The NNPA salutes the outstanding leadership of CBC Chair Karen Bass,” Chavis said. “She is leading the CBC to higher heights and all people of African descent will benefit especially,” he said.