Dr. Menna Demessie /Courtesy Photo
Dr. Menna Demessie /Courtesy Photo

The 40th anniversary of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Incorporated (CBCF) Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) marks a turning point for African-Americans to both reflect on public policy during the past four decades as well as the ramifications of a twice-elected African-American president to lead the nation.

The state of the black agenda is vast and deep, but its root causes stem from slavery, segregation, and today’s current climate of institutional discrimination that continues to be evidenced by racial disparities along a host of socioeconomic indicators. Moreover, the realization that eradicating racial disparities in housing, employment, wealth, criminal justice, and education take more than a moment, but a movement, calls upon African Americans and other racial minorities to continue to organize around short and long term economic investments and policy solutions that last far beyond a presidential election cycle.

At the same time, the next president will prove critical in either building on the substantive achievements from members in the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and those of President Obama that have set the path for improvement in the lives of African Americans and vulnerable communities, or erode the important groundwork that has been achieved in establishing a viable pathway toward the creation of a democracy that truly gives an equal and equitable opportunity to all whom contribute to it.

As close to 10,000 attendees make their way to this year’s Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) under the theme, “Defining the Moment, Building the Movement,” 40 years of activism and organizing around critical policy issues defining the black agenda will come to the fore once again.. ALC will convene the largest gathering of CBC members, community activists, educators, state and local black elected officials, business and civil rights leaders from various fields and industries to discuss, strategize, and organize around the current state of affairs for African Americans.

The difference this time around is that African Americans have seen the power and potential of unprecedented black leadership at the highest echelon of government backed by a resilient black electorate who twice made it the case. If anything should be remembered about the black agenda, it is that transformation happens at the grassroots and social movements require agents of change outside of the government – everyday people – just as much as it requires elected officials within the government to legislate the ongoing pursuit of equality and justice.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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