The Congressional Black Caucus is Going to Run D.C. This Week

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Summer has ended. Congress has had its recess. And thousands of black politicians, policy leaders and business leaders are preparing to swarm the nation’s capital.


Each September, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) hosts its Annual Legislative Conference (ALC). The ALC assembles African-American leaders from politics, business, unions and other industries to address pressing issues facing black Americans. With the failing economy on everyone’s mind, the theme for this year’s conference—Sept. 23-Sept. 26— is “Reinvest. Rebuild. Renew.”

Staying true to the theme of economic recovery, there are several roundtable discussions and panels devoted to economics, education and health—all cornerstones for success in American society.

The first of these scheduled events is the Capitol Hill Day Summit, on which all of the panel discussions will follow the topic, “Providing Opportunities for All—Strengthening pathways out of poverty.” The three panels will cover how to re-define poverty, possible federal solutions and the CBC’s role in economic empowerment. These panels will include officials from policy organizations, academia and the federal government including Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Marc Morial of the National Urban League.

On Thursday, Sept. 24, the CBC, which is comprised of the 42 members of the 111th Congress, will host the CBC Black Elected Officials Roundtable. This discussion promises to take a harder look at what the CBC can do, in conjunction with the Obama administration, for African Americans as the money set aside in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act continues to be allocated.

In addition to the discussions about economic revitalization, the CBC is devoting a considerable amount of time to the renewal of black leadership. Throughout the week, the Emerging Leadership Series will provide networking events, and other discussions dedicated to helping young elected officials and young professionals navigate a new career and social terrain.

But, CBC Weekend is not all about depressed economies and struggling education systems. The conference also recognizes that there is much to celebrate.


The CBC spouses will be honoring screenwriter and producer Tyler Perry and visual artist Sam Gilliam at the “Celebration of Leadership in Fine Arts.”

The two social highlights of the weekend are The Black Party (Sept. 24) and the Annual Phoenix Awards Dinner (Sept. 26). The Phoenix Award recognizes resilience and courage in its honorees. This year, the four honorees are Ambassador Susan Rice, Danny Glover, Rep. Calvin Smyre and Wyclef Jean.


Elsie L. Scott, president and chief executive officer for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF), said the goal of the confernce is to inspire hope and optimism and to develop strategies for overcoming the current social and economic turmoil.

“There is hope in the midst of America’s economic crisis. It is critical to remember that as we move forward in facing and defeating the many obstacles Americans are facing today,” Scott said.


Matthew McKnight is a Washington writer.