By Bria Grant
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) 45th Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) took place Sept. 16-20, 2015 in Washington, D.C. With this year’s theme being, “With Liberty and Justice for All?”, it was clear that CBCF’s desire was to advance the national conversation on criminal justice reform.
Milwaukee was well represented at the largest public policy conference in the country focused on issues impacting African Americans and black communities around the world.
CBCF attracts nearly 9,000 attendees each year and features more than 70 issue forums on education, employment, healthcare, economic empowerment, the African Diaspora, cultural events, exhibit hall with a procurement fair, free health screenings, author’s pavilion and much more.
During the 45th Annual Legislative Conference the Congressional Black Caucus held its Phoenix Award Dinner at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. President Barack Obama was the keynote speaker.
Elected attendees from Milwaukee included, County Supervisor Khalif Rainey (2nd district) and Supreme Moore Omokunde (10th district), Alderman Willie Wade (7th district) and Russell Stamper II (15th district) the staff of Senator Lena Taylor (4th district) and Congresswoman Gwen Moore (4th district)
Special high profile events this year included National Town Hall Meetings, facilitated by Roland Martin of TV One, the Annual Prayer Breakfast lead by Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III of Trinity Church of Christ, in Chicago, IL, My Brother’s Keeper hosted by Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson and the Phoenix Award Dinner with the keynote speaker, President Barack Obama.
President Obama directed a portion of his remarks toward the strength of black women, which make up of more than half of the nearly 70% of African Americans in the city of Milwaukee. From the official transcript:
“Ms. Robinson — as some of you know, earlier this year, my family and I joined many in Selma for the 50th anniversary of that march. And as we crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, I held Ms. Amelia’s hand.
And I thought about her and all the extraordinary women like her who were really the life force of the movement. Women were the foot soldiers. Women strategized boycotts. Women organized marches.
Even if they weren’t allowed to run the civil rights organizations on paper, behind the scenes they were the thinkers and the doers making things happen each and every day doing the work that nobody else wanted to do.
They couldn’t prophesize from the pulpits, but they led the charge from the pews.
They were no strangers to violence. They were on the front lines […] Women made the movement happen.”
Not only did the 44th POTUS address black women but the plague that has too often terrorized the black community, the broken relationship of law enforcement policies and communities of color.
From the official transcript:
“I want to repeat – because somehow this never shows up on Fox News.
I want to repeat – because I’ve said it a lot, unwaveringly, all the time: Our law enforcement officers do outstanding work in an incredibly difficult and dangerous job. They put their lives on the line for our safety. We appreciate them and we love them.
That’s why my Task Force on 21st Century Policing made a set of recommendations that I want to see implemented to improve their safety, as well as to make sure that our criminal justice system is being applied fairly.
Officers show uncommon bravery in our communities every single day. They deserve our respect. […]”
He went on to add, “We need to make sure the laws are applied evenly. This is not a new problem.
It’s just that in recent months, in recent years, suddenly folks have videos and body cameras, and social media, and so it’s opened our eyes to these incidents.
And many of these incidents are subject to ongoing investigation, so I can’t comment on every specific one.
But we can’t avoid these tough conversations altogether.
That’s not going to help our police officers, the vast majority who do the right thing every day, by just pretending that these things aren’t happening.
That’s not going to help build trust between them and the communities in which they serve.”
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) mission is to advance the global black community by developing leaders, informing policy, and educating the public.
The Phoenix award pays tribute to the legacy and achievements of remarkable individuals who positively impact the African American experience.
The honorees this year were Fred Gray, Civil Rights Attorney, North Carolina NAACP President Rev. Dr. William Barber, II; Montgomery Bus Boycott organizer Juanita Abernathy; Bloody Sunday organizer Amelia Boynton Robinson and leaders in the movement for the MLK National Monument, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated.
Photo by Urban Media News.