The 43rd Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation was scheduled to convene under the theme “It Starts With You” from Sept.18-21 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
About 10,000 persons were expected to attend the yearly gathering of Washington power players, industry leaders and ordinary men and women in the nation’s capital.
“ALC is recognized as one of the most important gatherings of African-Americans in the nation,” said CBCF Chairman Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) in a statement. “Every year, we see thousands of returning attendees and even more new faces ready to join the dialogue so they too can be agents of change in their communities. Our communities find support through the Foundation’s work on policies, programs and initiatives. It is our focused agenda that provides greater opportunities for all Americans.”
With an eye to developing leaders, informing policy and educating the public, the conclave was expected to include more than 70 forums and braintrusts, led by members of the CBC, on the critical issues facing African-Americans and the African Diaspora, such as unemployment, the implications of the Affordable Care Act for the Black community, and immigration issues, as it relates to immigrants from the Caribbean and Diaspora.
Most notably, this year’s national town hall meeting, “From Poverty to Prosperity: Confronting Violence, Restoring Opportunity, and Investing in our Youth” was expected to address the impact of poverty, juvenile justice, and gun violence.
“A couple of weeks ago, we as a nation commemorated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. However, just a few weeks before that historic celebration, we deplored the court rulings on the Voting Rights Act and the Trayvon Martin case. As we enter the final months of this year, we are looking for solutions to the issues plaguing Black communities around the world,” CBCF’s newly appointed President and CEO A. Shaunise Washington told the AFRO.
Solving those problems begins with each individual, Washington added, explaining the conference’s theme.
“Through this year’s conference, we endeavor to ignite personal leadership, a passion for public service and the pursuit of justice for all,” she said. “ALC attendees will have opportunities to share their talents, thoughts and experiences through intimate conversations, braintrusts, networking, and even social media. We are providing them with forums to exchange resources and information that will hopefully motivate attendees to share the assets they gain from ALC with their networks and home communities.”
She added, “We view ALC as an opportunity to build momentum, to challenge thinking and offer innovative discoveries that can change communities and a country.”
“We know that small businesses fuel our economy. With this in mind, we added a new procurement portion to the Enterprise Pavilion to increase the value of the Exhibit Hall experience for entrepreneurs and small business owners,” Washington explained. “Corporations will exhibit alongside government agencies and provide information about how to secure federal and private contracts.”
The ALC had its lighter moments as well. Top gospel choirs will perform at the Gospel Extravaganza on Sept. 19, and the popular Jazz Concert will also take place on that night. Younger ALC attendees will want to show off their best at The Black Party, which takes place at the Howard Theatre from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sept. 20.
The Phoenix Awards Dinner is scheduled for Sept. 21. Coming on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the Awards Dinner will celebrate the “Spirit of 1963” and the fruits of the March, from voting rights and school desegregation to President Obama’s historic election to the presidency in 2008, and the men and women who advanced those causes.
Awardees, former President Bill Clinton, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) and Elaine Jones, former president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, will be recognized for their contribution to African-American political awareness and empowerment, as well as to the advancement of minorities in the electoral process.
President Obama will be the keynote speaker.
“It is an honor and privilege to have alumni CBC member President Barack Obama address this year’s Phoenix Awards Dinner. His remarks will be a fitting culmination of the 2013 Annual Legislative Conference,” said Fattah in a statement. “President Obama’s presence, together with our recognition of President Clinton for his global advocacy work, will make this a historic evening for CBCF.”
Washington said she hopes ALC attendees walk away armed with the tools they need to rebuild the broken areas of their communities.
“I want attendees to feel empowered to take the information, resources and networks they gained during ALC back to their home communities to inspire positive and much-needed change in public policy,” she said. “We want to inspire you to be the change you need in our communities.”
For a schedule of events, visit: http://www.cbcfinc.org/alc2013-schedule.html. To keep up with what’s happening at the conference, follow the CBCF at: www.facebook.com/CBCFInc and www.twitter.com/CBCFInc (#CBCFALC13).