From the killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling to the end of a historic Obama administration and the election of a new president, many would say 2016 was a tumultuous year for the black community in the United States. Many were unsure how the advancement of the black agenda would continue given the underwhelming turnout of black voters compared to 2008 and 2016.

The 2016 presidential election received an underwhelming voter turnout among all voters, declining from 62.1 percent of eligible voters participating in 2004 to 55 percent in 2016. This decrease was especially evident among black voters. After 20 years of a consistent rise in voter participation, black voter turnout dropped significantly from 66.6 percent in 2012 to 59.6 percent in 2016. This decline begs the question, “What caused black voter turnout to decrease?” Perhaps black voters did not feel any of the candidates would advocate for priorities of the black agenda or maybe there was sense of hopelessness in the post-Obama era. In either case, it is important not give up the fight for our civil rights and to always hold our government accountable for the actions they take even when it may not appear positive, change coming.

As 2016 ended and 2017 continues, it is evident black Americans need to use all platforms possible to advance the black agenda whether running for office themselves, engaging in community advancement in education or protesting for positive change. We are now connected more than ever through new technologies that connect us with people across the globe and can be used as a medium of digital social activism and mobilization around inequalities of the day and how to solve them. With this constant connectivity, there also lies the opportunity to share positive messages and affirmation to the black community. In an era when the president openly encourages police brutality, advocates for the repeal of universal health care, it is important to speak truth to power and work together for guidance, support, and love to advance justice, equality, and security for black lives.

Join us to brainstorm and mobilize around positive change for the black community at the National Town Hall at the Annual Legislative Conference hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Incorporated (CBCF). On Thursday, Sept. 21 at the Walter E. Washington Center at 9 a.m. The Town Hall will include elected officials, prominent activists and experts who will discuss concerns of the post-Obama effect in black community under the Trump administration, the role of black millennials in advancing the black agenda, what strategies and solutions do we make to ensure black voices and interests are addressed?

As we end the first year of a new presidential administration and the 115th Congress, the fight civil rights contuse and is embodied by this year’s ALC theme, “And Still I Rise.” Attracting nearly 10,000 students, professionals and activists from around the nation, ALC brings the brightest and most passionate to Washington, D.C. creating a community where black people can comfortably and confidently work to advance the black agenda. Accommodating all 49 members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), ALC is the prime opportunity to collaborate with those on Capitol Hill and on the ground to find the best ways to ensure the safety, productivity, and success of the black community.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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