By Gloria Dulan-Wilson
To state that 2013 is a pivotal year in
Black history is an understatement. We are celebrating the 150th
anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation; the 50th Anniversary of
the March on Washington, the 100th Anniversary of Delta Sigma Theta
Sorority, Inc., and the 43rd year of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Converging on Washington DC this
weekend are elected officials, community activists, businessmen and
women, as well artists, activists, rank and file community members - all
there for one main purpose: setting the agenda for African Americans
(and people of African Heritage) for the next year.
in the Borough of Brooklyn, were fortunate to have free buses provided
to bring down those interested in attending workshops, sponsored by
Congressional members Yvette Clarke, Hakeem Jeffries, and Assemblymember
Walter Moseley, so they could learn first hand about what the Caucus is
about, and participate in the many events that centered around the programs.
For those who think the Congressional
Black Caucus is about partying, has never attended the Brain Trusts,
workshops and forums their congressional members have diligently
assembled to provide participants with cutting edge information.
Prodigious research goes into the selection of topic, speakers, experts,
as well as reading material and collaterals that will be distributed to
This year is no different. With over
80 workshops being presented, in an atmosphere where African Americans
voting rights are under siege by the Supreme Court; our education,
employment and health under siege by the rep-ugh-blicans; were economic
downturn and foreclosure/housing crises still plague the Black
community, the CBC attempts to address and resolve those issues; or at
least to provide a means by which solutions can be established.
This is also the beginning of
registration and implementation for Health Care Reform, also called
ObamaCare. The increased opportunity for those who have been deprived
of health insurance was very much on the agenda of the Caucus, as more
than seventeen (17) workshops devoted to every aspect of health
challenges as well as wellness options.
Also uppermost on the mind of the
Caucus is the future of Africa - our Mother Land - and developing
alliances with African leaders as well as African communities throughout
the Continent. Congresswoman Karen Bass' blue ribbon panel comprised of participants from
Africa and the US, was empaneled to focus on what continues to
drive the problems in the Congo, Sudan, and other areas; as well as what works,
and what needs to be done to expand the opportunities and options for
future growth and development.
Co-conveners of the Health and Wellness
workshops were Congessman Gregory Meeks, Donna F. Edwards, Barbara
Lee, Marcia L. Fudge (DST), Eliah E. Cummings, James Clyburn, among others. With the advent of ObamaCare, challenges like diabetes, kidney problems, arthritis, cancer, and lack of access to cutting edge medical interventions may soon be a thing of the past. Preventative measures - myths and realities - were also part of the focus of the health forums.
Housing and home ownership were also
uppermost on the mind of the Caucus, as so many African Americans
suffered the loss of their homes through an economic downturn that would
have been turned around had it not been for the rapacious behavior and
antagonistic actions of a rep-ugh-blican congress that apparently has
little, to no, respect for our lives, education or existence. NACA -
the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America - provided a forum
for first time homebuyers, as well as those who are facing foreclosure -
with more than 400 people crowding into a room that was designed to
Education and employment addressed the
future of college graduates, the challenges families face in affording
education, the need for more relevant educational programs for high
school students, as well as the danger HBCU's face with the dual crisis
of underfunding forcing our colleges into bankruptcy, as well as the
trend toward newly appointed presidents (also known as "trojan horses")
deliberately being hired to systematically dismantle them (Medgar Evers
College in Brooklyn, NY just emerged from such a challenge. There are
several other colleges facing the same problems, including Lincoln
University, PA, and Morris Brown University, Atlanta, GA. -
necessitating the focus of the caucus as well as constituents, whether
they attended those schools or not, to focus on the protection and
preservation of these historical legacies which provided higher
education at a time when Black people were refused admission to
mainstream educational centers.
Challenges to our voting rights and the
resolution of a stalemated congress, with rep-ugh-blicans holding the
rest of Congress hostage with their co-called sequestration and blockage
of funding for essential programs, should give you a pretty good idea
of what the CBC are up against as they negotiate and legislate in our
It goes to the reason why it's of the
utmost importance that we not only vote, but take an active interest in
what is going on, and provide support to our elected officials. The
theme of the caucus - "It All Begins With You," signifies that it is
more important than ever that we, among the rank and file, become even
more involved than ever with helping our elected officials in ensuring
that our rights are restored, and that we help them in garnering the
required support prevent them from depriving us of our rights.
Over the next few weeks, I will be
posting some of the more relevant highlights from the CBC/ALC 2013. The
topics are much too important or comprehensive to just give you a
cursory overview. And as you know, I never right short, because what's
going on is waaaay too important to encapsulate in an "elevator
message." We not only need to know, we need act, as well.
I'm going to close with this first part
by saying this time next year each of us should endeavor to send at
least 1 busload of constituents from wherever you live to participate in
the Congressional Black Caucus. Have them set up with requirements to
participate in specific workshops, and bring back comprehensive
information to the community so that you can work in concert with your
elected officials in your own states and communities.
So consider this Part I - an overview of sorts, with more to come.
Stay Blessed &
Stay Blessed &