In his last Black History Month in the White House, President Barack Obama will mix it up with, and for the first time ever convene, a group of civil rights leaders who span the generations—both from the newer Black Lives Matter movement as well as leaders of more established civil rights organizations.
According to a senior administration official, on Thursday afternoon the president will meet with the group of about 15 prior to the annual White House Black History Month reception. The leaders are slated to discuss a range of issues, from criminal-justice reform to “the president’s priorities during his final year in office.”
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch is also expected to attend, and one can’t imagine that the vacancy on the Supreme Court will not at least be broached informally.
The White House has confirmed attendees: Aislinn Pulley, co-founder and lead organizer with Black Lives Matter Chicago; the Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of the National Action Network; Benjamin Crump, president of the National Bar Association; Brittany Packnett, member of the president’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing; C.T. Vivian, leader and author; Carlos Clanton, president of the National Urban League Young Professionals; Cornell Brooks, president of the NAACP; DeRay Mckesson, co-founder of We the Protesters and Campaign Zero; Deshaunya Ware, student leader of Concerned Student 1950 at the University of Missouri; Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.); Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League; Mary Patricia Hector, national youth director of the National Action Network; Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation; Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org; Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Stephen Green, national director of the NAACP Youth Division; and Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
This month the White House has been busy celebrating the contributions African Americans have made to the nation. Earlier in the month, the first lady hosted a celebration of dance with noted African-American dancers from different genres. The White House also has plans to highlight the accomplishments of alumni of HBCUs, with a nod to producer and director Will Packer, who graduated with an electrical engineering degree from Florida A&M University.