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Collective voices, community change imperative for Congressional Black Caucus.

Representatives and colleagues of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) assembled for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's (CBCF) Annual Legislative Conference September 10-13 at the Washington, D.C. Convention Center. This year's 27th annual gathering sets out to speak to the interests of the CBC as being "in the forefront of providing policy direction, building networks and bringing about change in communities locally, nationally or globally."

CBCF Chairman LeBaron Taylor, Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs, Sony Music Entertainment, Inc., encouraged conference attendees to focus on this year's theme, "Leadership Dimensions for the New Millennium," by resolving to use the resources of the conference to help make improvements in their own communities.

Message from the CBC Chair

Maxine Waters, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, remarked, "In the 105th Congress, the CBC has developed an agenda and legislative initiatives to protect the hard fought gains that people of color and women have made over the past 30 years by providing access to opportunities for all citizens. Specifically, the agenda focuses on, among other things, eradicating drugs; expanding health care coverage for children; and increasing economic development in urban and rural communities to create jobs and expand opportunities. . . Real leadership means raising the stature, the energy and the effectiveness of everyone. As members of the CBC, we represent many who traditionally have had no voice or representation in the political and economic policies in this country."

Braintrust sessions and issue forums offered a plethora of discussion topics and strategies for convention-goers. This year, the Caucus hosted a town meeting, "Race Relations in the New Millennium," which was hosted by Congresswoman Waters and featured Dr. John Hope Franklin, Chairman of the President's Advisory Board on Race and Professor Emeritus within Duke University's Department of History.

According to Chairperson Waters, "Our key focus is the subject of how race plays an important role in the decisions of African American institutions. It also sets the tone for determining future efforts by black leadership to identify, define, and deal with the issues of race, discrimination, marginalization, and racism."

Braintrusts and issue forums dealt with the themes of policy changes; the plight of the black farmer, the changing bank and financial services landscape; health and lifestyle choices; police misconduct; school transformations and opportunities; energy deregulation; end African and its emergence in the global economy.

According to Congressman Louis Stokes (D-Ohio) who focused on the health braintrust, "We must address some of the most critical health challenges which impact the minority community. Our discussions (have brought) about meaningful legislative proposals."

Congresswoman Eva Clayton (D-N.C.) convened this year's braintrust on "The Plight of the Black Farmer -- Problems and Possibilities," where she and a number of other congressional members and noted speakers explored the problems of the history of many social disadvantaged minority farmers.

According to Clayton, the plight of the black farmer transcends region, and reaches beyond where each of us lives. It encompasses an array of black Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Indian Americans and women. This issue also affects the disabled." She said that the serious problems facing many of these farmers affects individuals in urban communities. "The fate of farmers and the fate of urban dwellers are inextricably tied together. Discriminatory practices in extending loans, technical assistance and resources of whatever kind will cost those in New York City as surely as it costs those in Halifax County, North Carolina."

NBC-LEO Participation

Several members of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBC-LEO) and NLC were in attendance at this year's meeting. NBC-LEO President Mary Pinkett noted that it is important for our local NBC-LEO leaders to participate annually in the CBC conference to gather strategies for community development and become more instrumental in creating positive opportunities and models for their cities through networking with members and colleagues of the CBC. We have a strong history of working together as partners to improve the conditions of African Americans in our cities and we want to continue to build on this relationship to the best of our ability."

For more information about the Congressional Black Caucus and its Foundation, write CBCF, 1004 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20003. For more information and a membership application to NBC-LEO, call NBC-LEO staff at NLC at (202) 626-3191.
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Title Annotation:1997 Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
Author:Gordon, Mary France
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Sep 29, 1997
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