By Zenitha Prince
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper
The 43rd Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation will gather 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 are expected to attend the yearly gathering of Washington power players, industry leaders and ordinary men and women in the nation’s capital.
With an eye to developing leaders, informing policy and educating the public, the conclave will comprise more than 70 forums and brain trusts on the critical issues facing African-Americans and the African Diaspora.
Most notably, this year’s national town hall meeting, “From Poverty to Prosperity: Confronting Violence, Restoring Opportunity, and Investing in our Youth” will address the impact of poverty, juvenile justice and gun violence.
“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.”
In a question-and-answer session with the AFRO, the CBCF’s newly-appointed President and CEO A. Shaunise Washington shared her thoughts about the yearly gathering.
AFRO: What will be the focus of this year’s conference?
CBCF CEO Washington: 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. And through this year’s conference, we endeavor to ignite personal leadership, a passion for public service and the pursuit of justice for all.
The conference will utilize social media, including the CBCF app which will help attendees navigate through more than 70 issue forums.
Our news-making town hall meeting will focus on the impact of poverty, juvenile justice, Stand Your Ground laws, and gun violence. We will also provide interactive sessions that explore unemployment in the African-American community, the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and immigration issues, as it relates to immigrants from the Caribbean and Diaspora.
AFRO: What’s new in this year’s conference?
Washington: This year we will unveil our new Enterprise Pavilion at the Exhibits Showcase, to increase the value of the Exhibit Hall experience for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Corporations will exhibit alongside government agencies and provide information about how to secure federal and private contracts.
Close to 10,000 are expected to visit the showcase. It will be open Sept. 19 from noon to 7 p.m.; Sept. 20 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sept. 21 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. We will also have free health screenings, an authors pavilion and a robust marketplace.
AFRO: What entertainment will be offered?
Washington: I am looking forward to hearing some of the top gospel choirs at our Gospel Extravaganza, and of course, taking a moment to enjoy our popular jazz concert.
The culminating event is the Phoenix Awards Dinner… an opportunity for us to celebrate the hard-fought achievements of public servants, embrace colleagues from across the governmental and business sectors, and raise money for the many important programs CBCF undertakes.
For more information, visit: www.facebook.com/CBCFInc and www.twitter.com/CBCFInc (#CBCFALC13). To register, visit: http://cbcfinc.org/registration-2013.html.
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