What has traditionally become one of the largest political gatherings in Washington, D.C. attracting 30,000 people annually, went virtual this week.
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) kicked off its Annual Legislative Conference completely online, tackling critical topics like education, healthcare and the social status of Black men and boys.
“This conference takes place as the world, America and the Black community manages a global pandemic, economic depression and a sustained movement for racial equity in addition to a host of other issues leading into the 2020 United States general election,” said Tonya Veasey, CBCF president and CEO. “As Black Americans continue to fight a double pandemic, it is imperative that we take action and use this historic moment to inform policy, educate the public and provide even a brief moment of respite.”
This year’s gathering—which is free and open to the public—has attracted well-known political figures including Senator Cory Booker; Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass; civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton and Georgetown University professor Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.
“This is an incredible time of transition in America, and especially within the Black community,” said Congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia. “The theme of this year’s Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference highlights the fierce urgency for change. Voting rights, civil rights, healthcare, and our very democracy are at stake. Now is Our Time.
Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence of Michigan said the issues impacting the nation and higher education are front in center in the upcoming presidential election.
“Now is Our Time to vote, to be informed, to be counted, and to take a stand,” she said. “The Annual Legislative Conference is committed to providing a voice for Black America. This year, we continue, even in a pandemic. We continue in a vital format.”
Virtual attendees talked about the need to fend off voter suppression in the upcoming election and said that more has to be done to help minority communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re really struggling and hurting,” said Martha Lyons, a retired school teacher from Chicago who participated in this week’s activities. “Our cities are hurting and I am worried that if we do not have new leadership, things will continue to fall apart.”
Established in 1976, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) is a non-partisan, nonprofit, public policy, research and educational institute committed to advancing the global Black community by developing leaders, informing policy and educating the public. The annual conference has been an opportunity to connect policy with legislative efforts.