Expect policy sessions, power building and partying with a purpose when the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. kicks off its 48th annual conference on Wednesday in the nation’s capital. The five-day (Sept.12-16) gathering at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. typically draws upwards of 10,000 attendees—from elected officials and professionals to celebrities and college students–to partake in a plethora of forums on health, education, economic empowerment, the environment, and civic engagement.
This year’s theme, “The Dream Still Demands,” according to organizers, will honor the legacy of pivotal American civil and social movements of the past 50 years, while uplifting present-day champions in the fight for racial equality, justice and freedom.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) is chairwoman of the CBCF Board of Directors. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) are honorary co-chairs; a first since traditionally co-chairs have been members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“For more than 40 years, the [conference] has provided an extraordinary platform for people… to come together and discuss vital issues related to social justice, leadership, economic prosperity, entrepreneurship and much more,” said Jackson Lee in a statement. “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.”
Shuanise Washington, president and CEO of CBCF echoed a similar sentiment, noting “we find ourselves in a critical time” where diverse voices are “imperative” to the future of America.
“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,” she said in a statement.
Besides dozens of policy and leadership sessions led by lawmakers and influencers, the conference will feature an Exhibit Showcase with an on-site employment fair and free health screenings; the Prayer Breakfast; National Town Hall; Gospel Extravaganza; the Annual Celebration of Leadership in the Fine Arts, and the Phoenix Awards Dinner, which supports the CBCF’s mission-critical programs including education, economic development, health and research. In the past, special guests such as 44th President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have attended the dinner.
During the confab, 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. Indeed, organizers said the conference has long provided a “safe haven” for black Americans to contribute their experiences, knowledge, and opinions to a larger, national dialogue.
Essence Communications, the number one media company dedicated to Black women, will host a series of events as a CBCF media partner.
On Wednesday, The Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR) will hold its 10th Annual Public Policy Forum, in partnership with ESSENCE. The forum is entitled “Time for a Power Shift: Follow Black Women If You Want to Win.” Joy-Ann Reid, a political analyst and talk-show host for MSNBC, will serve as a discussion moderator. The results from the 4th annual “Power of the Sister Vote” poll conducted by the BWR and ESSENCE will also be released.
Actor John David Washington; president of Essence Communications, Inc., Michelle Ebanks; and actor, director and producer, Laurence J. Fishburne III will receive awards at the Celebration of Leadership in the Fine Arts. The awards ceremony, which will take place Wednesday at the Sidney Harman Hall, from 7:30-9:30 p.m., is organized in cooperation with the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Spouses Visual and Performance Arts Scholarship program. Erika Alexander, an actress, writer and political activist, will be the mistress of ceremonies for the evening.
The Sojourner Truth Legacy Project Town Hall and Reception (on Wednesday and Thursday respectively), in collaboration with the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls (CBWG), will host a moderated town hall.
The Sojourner Truth Legacy Project Town Hall aims to build a dynamic, nationwide, intergenerational network of African American and multicultural women. The Town Hall will take place Wednesday, September 12, 2018, 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. at theWalter E. Washington Convention Center. The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) in collaboration with the Congressional Caucus on Black Women & Girls, FORD and ESSENCE will host the Sojourner Truth Legacy Project Reception at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. During the event, Bernice A. King will receive the Women of Truth Award, Rep. Barbara Lee will receive the CBC Women of the Year Award, and Rep. Frederica Wilson will receive the CBC Women of Courage Award. You must RSVP to attend. Please visit CBCFinc.org/SojournerTruth2018 to RSVP today!
Sen. Booker said the gathering was “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.”
“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,” said Sen. Harris in a statement.
“I look forward to confronting these issues head on, and working to create solutions that will lead to lasting change.”
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