Every September, elected officials, members of the media, authors and every day people come to Washington, DC for the Congressional Black Caucus’ Annual Legislative Conference (ALC). The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc., which was founded in 1976 and based in Washington, DC, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy, research and educational institute who’s goal is to help improve the socioeconomic circumstances of African Americans and other underserved communities. The conference features participation by the Congressional Black Caucus and includes dozens of policy forums, general sessions, exhibits, a job fair, book signings and vast networking opportunities.
This year’s theme was, “Reinvest, Rebuild & Renew”. Reinvesting in the communities you live in, rebuilding the foundation of those communities and renewing to make them profitable. Topics such as housing opportunities for African-American’s were discussed in one forum, which ironically was sponsored by Citibank. Another interesting forum included a discussion hosted by Rep. Elijah Cummings, “Men To Boys: Lessons To Uplift Our Community”, which included panelists Susan Taylor, Kevin Liles and Dr. Steve Perry. This forum’s purpose was to raise awareness of the issues affecting young men of color and their families and how those issues impact the African American community. Also, it included a discussion on how effective mentorship programs in the communities actually make a big difference in the lives of the children who live in them.
In this time of economic uncertain, economic security and small business issues was a large part of this year’s Annual Legislative Conference. Many of the forums was used as information sessions to help people understand the processes involved in exploring business opportunities within the Federal government and teaching people how to navigate the procurement/contracting process with federal agencies. They also gave lessons in the fundamentals of how to establish and run a successful business. These forums were moderated by people like, Ed Gordon, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Rep. Charles Rangel, Rep. Maxine Waters, Londell McMillian, Attorney and Publisher of The Source, and Jesse Jackson.
As you can see, there was a lot to be discussed and learned at the Annual Legislative Conference this year. But of course, if you didn’t know much about the Congressional Black Caucus, you’d think the main focus of DC this past week were the parties. It never ceases to amaze me, that year after year, people swarm the city not for the educational purposes of the ALC, but for the entertainment aspects of it. Where there are black people, there’s bound to be parties.
I’d be interested in knowing, out of all of the people who attended the parties that were going on, how many of them actually saw Haki Madhubuti and Dr. Cornel West speak. How many of them attended the Emerging Leaders forums and saw the screening of Mario Van Peeble’s documentary, “Bring Your “A” Game”, or “Beyond the Bricks”? How many of them actually heard Attorney General Eric Holder, Henry Louis Gates & Dr. Cornel West & Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, speak on fixing the American justice system and ending racial profiling and the disparity in the sentences handed down to blacks and latinos. Chances are, many of the party people were recovering from the night before.
All in all, this year’s ALC provided something for everyone. Whether you were someone interested in learning how to secure government contracts, or you were interested in health and wellness issues affecting the African-American community the information was being disseminated. For those truly interested in reinvesting, rebuilding and renewing, make sure you visit, www. cbcfinc.org.