It’s that time of the year once again — and one of my favorite weeks — when Black politicians, community leaders, preachers, teachers, potent pontificators and vibrant voting blocs from across the U.S. assemble in the District for five days of critical conversations about the current state and the future of Black America.
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation takes the lead in hosting their 46th Annual Legislative Conference, Sept. 14–18, with events at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and other venues throughout the District.
Naturally, the highlight will be an address by President Barack Obama — his last appearance in his eight-year role as the nation’s commander in chief — when he speaks at the always popular Annual Phoenix Awards Dinner on Saturday, Sept. 17. But there will be plenty of provocative town hall meetings, forums, receptions, luncheons and celebrations attracting thousands of people of color, a rainbow of browns and children of the African Diaspora, who hail from every corner of the U.S., Africa, the Caribbean and beyond.
For me, the week allows me the prime opportunity to reminisce about my wonderful childhood, Motown memories with my former high school classmate Rep. Keith Ellison, to catch up on the Miami happenings with my beloved “sister” Rep. Cynthia Stafford, to hang out with my best friend and the energetic president of the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida, Henry Crespo Sr., and provides me with another chance to express my gratitude to two longtime members of the Black Caucus and my mentors, Rep. Danny Davis from Chicago and Rep. Frederica S. Wilson from Miami — two individuals who have shaped my career and life in numerous ways and for which I can never repay them enough.
This is our time, our moment, our chance to clarify our goals, our desires, and our needs as African-Americans with the election for the next president of the United States just a few months away. Let’s make the most of it. And let’s make sure everyone we know is registered to vote.
And when Election Day comes, be sure that you go to the poll — and take as many folks with you as possible!
We have made significant strides as a people since being kidnapped from Mother Africa and brought across the seas as slaves. But for far too many, that state of bondage continues, albeit in new variations and forms.
Now we must free our minds from those chains that still keep us locked up, locked away and locked in from the benefits of true equality.
As En Vogue once sang, “Free your mind and the rest will follow.”