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CBC members meet to chart the policy path ahead
At this year’s Congressional Black Caucus Foundation legislative conference, Black movers, shakers, and policymakers will plant the seeds to solve the challenges that nag our nation.
It’s fitting the Congressional Black Caucus currently boasts its largest membership in the organization’s history because the 58 elected officials who comprise the group are at the forefront of some of the most daunting issues that ail the nation.
The seeds of the solutions to many of these challenges—from voter suppression to gun violence to the racial and gender wealth gap to bias in artificial intelligence and more—will be planted over the next four days at the CBC Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, DC.
“Previous presidential elections have shown us how precious the democratic process is in America,” Del. STACEY PLASKETT DV.I.), one of the conference’s honorary co-chairs, said at a kickoff event on Wednesday. “This year’s ALC will give us an opportunity to explore transformative dialogue and actionable solutions that can shape and brighten our nation’s future.”
Sen. RAPHAEL WARNOCK DGa.), the other honorary co-chair, described the moment as one with high stakes for the country.
“This conference encourages all of us to do the work that’s necessary to secure the freedoms we have pursued for generations—and ensure that they remain in place for generations to come,” Warnock said. “When the history of our country is reviewed decades from now, it will be clear that at every nexus of change over the last 50 years and going forward, the Congressional Black Caucus has been the tip of the spear of good and meaningful change in the United States of America.”
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The theme of this year’s conference is “Securing Our Democracy. Protecting Our Freedoms. Uplifting Our Culture.” and will serve as a backdrop for more than 100 issue forums, policy conversations, and panel discussions for the more than 2,500 people expected to populate the event through the weekend.
But executing on this theme will require all the innovation, collaboration, and determination the eventgoers can muster.
The federal government is divided and mired in an awful era of partisan gridlock. Savage state legislatures are unapologetic in their aggressive efforts to marginalize already overlooked and underserved communities. And well-funded advocacy groups are pressing these politicians and power brokers to be unrelenting in their extremism despite how unpopular it may be.
From the folks I spoke to as I made my way from the conference exhibit hall to the press room, they seem up to the task though.
Aside from the substantive legislative agenda, there are several events that should bring some levity and community-building to the mix.
CBC spouses and CBCF staff on Thursday will serve breakfast at Franklin Park in downtown DC while community health care partners provide screenings for local unhoused and low-income residents.
There’s also a highly anticipated Gospel Extravaganza featuring performers, speakers, and choirs from across the country. If you’re looking for me tomorrow evening, that’s where you’ll find me.
Saturday will feature a Day of Healing that will unite faith leaders and folks of all backgrounds in a commitment toward positive change.
The conference will culminate with the swanky Phoenix Awards, a recognition of people who have made significant contributions to society. President JOE BIDEN and Vice President KAMALA HARRIS are expected to give keynote speeches.
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation was founded in 1976 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy and educational institution with a mission to advance the global Black community.
Rep. STEVEN HORSFORD DNev.), the current CBC chair, described the Foundation as a powerful force that provides thought leadership and on-the-ground activations for members to better serve their 82 million constituents that represent more than one-quarter of the US population.
In her remarks before members cut the ribbon to officially kick off the conference, CBCF President NICOLE AUSTIN-HILLARY charged attendees with galvanizing around the CBC and CBCF’s shared vision of making the world a more just and equitable place for Black people.
“We each have a job to do and I don’t care what your name [is], what your title is,” Austin-Hillary said. “We each have an opportunity to be changemakers and let us use these days together to equip ourselves so that we are ready to change the world and make it better.