The 48th Annual Congressional Black Caucus 2018: One for the History Books

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Hello All:

This year marks the 48th Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Caucus Weekend.  This means that 48 years ago a group of conscientious, intelligent young Black Congressmen came together to form an organization for the benefit of their Black constituency.  That was March 30, 1971.  The first year  I covered the Congressional Black Caucus was September, 1985 - 33 years ago.  I was awed, amazed, impressed, proud of the fact that our Congressmen and women were so dedicated that they would set aside time to plan an event so momentous and informative, to set the agenda for themselves and their constituents.  It was a total eye opener for me.  I learned so much that first time out, and continue to do so over the coming years.  

Me in front of the Phoenix

This is one  of the most unforgettable CBCF ALC Weekends ever.  So much so, that  I am going to start from the end and go to the middle - because the Phoenix Awards Dinner was spectacular, despite the rubber chicken and the seasonless greens (ijs)

From the Sojourner Truth Awards, to the African American History Museum, to the African Brain Trust, and other events sponsored and coordinated by our Elected officials, the entire week was information rich, and packed wth ways and means for self empowerment.  Encyclopedic in nature, there was so much information, so many subject matter experts, it really takes at least two weeks to fully partake of the Braintrusts, round tables, demonstrations and receptions.  No matter how hard I try - and  I do try - I just can't make them all.  So many of them are running concurently that you practically need to either clone your self or just dip and dab, catching a snippet from one, and a tidbit from the other.  I think it would be great if they provided DVDs of the programs that one could purchase; or at least a link so that one could review them at a later date.  I also think there should be a test at the end to determine whether or not participants comprehended and benefited from the wealth of information and knowledge imparted.  

I, for one, am in awe of the prodigious amount of knowledge they share - it makes me confident that my votes have not been wasted.  All we need do now is to continue to support and communicate with our  CBC - if you need to know something, you need but to ask.  They've already done the research.  Each honoree for the Phoenix Awards was thoroughly researched.  You'd be amazed at how many heroes and sheroes we have walking among us that don't make the headlines, but are continuing to serve our People. 

I was so elated and impressed that the Congressional Black Caucus honored the dynamic husband and wife duo of The Rev. Jesse and Jackie Jackson - with dual awards.  So well deserved and so long overdue.  Rev. Jackson's feats as an activist  reached superhero levels in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.  Boldly going where most feared to go, "The Rev," as he is often affectionately called, has literally risked his life on several occasions, to save victims - Black and white,  started organizations that benefit the Black community.  He has made it his business to keep us informed about business and other opportunities, via his Wall Street Project that was established 21 years ago, and takes place in New York every year in February (formerly in January around Martin Luther King's birthday).

While the Reverend and Ms. Jackson are recognized world wide and honored for their efforts and activism, this is the first time the Congressional Black has honored the couple.  I unabashedly admit that Rev. Jackson is one of my personal heroes, and has been since my collee days.  But I've also  had the pleasure of getting to know and admire Jackie Jackson, the wind beneath his wings - a beautiful, warm, friendly, savvy, power in her own right.  They are very much a power couple, and an example of what happens when make your marriage and relationship the priority.   

Kudos to the CBCF for recognizing the greatness of this dynamic couple. 

California Congresswoman Maxine "Maximum" Waters said it best when she stated: "There was a discussion about whether we should be giving him an award.  And as Bobby Rush said when he gave him the award, "We don't care how many times he's been recognized, we are going to award him again and again and again, because he deserves it!  We said that Jackie has been by his side, has raised five (5) children, who has sacrificed, who has led rallies and organized and helped us to understand that we have the power in these two great leaders; they are the two most dynamic human beings in this country, and we are awarding both of them this evening!  And  I want them to know that Jesse  has been the most dedicated, effective and relevant civil rights leader of our times.

And I want you to understand that he has helped us to understand who we are.  And I want you to understand that 1984 and 1988 has changed our lives when Jesse Jackson decided to run for the office of the President of the United States.  He did well over three million votes, the second time, well over six million.

He has helped us to understand that if we fight, we can win; If we don't fight we will never know.  And I want you to know that if there had been no Jesse Jackson, there would have been no Barack Obama."

Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush did the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and his lovely wife Jacqueline Jackson.  A former activist, Bobby Rush,  stated:  "Never in the history of the Congressional Black Caucus have I been so honored and so privileged to present an award to a man and wife who have distinguished themselves in so many ways.   "Keep Hope Alive!  I am somebody!" It has meant so much to me, and especially in 1969, the police came to my apartment to arrest me.  I wasn't there.  I had gone underground.   I called Rev. Jackson and pleaded with him to help me.  He told me to come to Operation Bread Basket  at 9:00AM that Saturday morning so that I could be arrested safe and sound.  He saved my life!  He saved my life. I can say so many things about Rev. Jackson and that is there would not have been a president without Rev. Jackson. Harold Washington would not have  been elected mayor of Chicago;  Carol Moseley Braun would not have become our our first Senator without Jesse Jackson.  So all of these years, we are who we are, because they are who they are.  And we are so in debt to Reverend and Mrs. Jackson; and for saving my life and the lives of so many generations yet unborn."

NOTE:  Congressman Bobby Rush was a former member of SNCC - Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, but later joined the Black Panther Party in Chicago, where he headed up the Children's Breakfast Program, and a free medical clinic.

Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, and Chair of the CBC, stated:  "For me Rev. Jackson and Sister Jackson, who I have admired all my adult life, are very big and international heroes and sheroes.  They are national figures, but international.  What we are doing tonight is acknowledging that no one honor is good enough for them.  I am reminded of Jackie's kindness of American children and poor children. Not just our children, but Native American children, poor children, and  still raising five children, and always preserving a home. I am reminded of her civil rights credentials and her refusal to back down in a segregated America; and standing by her husband, as he rescued soldiers - and only Jesse Louis Jackson could bring them home.  So I am humbled in the presence of these two heroes,  I am proud to stand with three of the members of the Jackson family, something none of us have ever seen in our lives, and say to America - we too are Americans - and  we are proud to present the Chair's award of the Congressional Black Caucus,  and the Lifetime Achievement Award to Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson and Mrs. Jacqueline Jackson, Our American and International Leaders."

Amidst wild applause and a standing ovation, Jesse and Jackie took the podium, Jessie holding her hand up in a champion like fashion. 

Jesse, in accepting the award, "I thank the Congressional Black Caucus for this award; and  I thank God that nothing is too hard for God, and nothing too hard for us.  We might get knocked down, but we get back up again; and no place for champions.  And I want to thank Jackie, my wife.  We were married in 1961. We met on a picket line.  I was a sophomore, she was a freshman.  Trying to make my play,  she said you can help me.  but I'm really trying to do a paper on foreign policy between Red China and India.   And  I said, Right!  
All of my foreign policy work, Jackie went to Nicaragua to meet the Chancellor, first;  Lebanon to meet Arafat first and the Soviet Union, a true international affair across the years.   It turned into a full blown international affair.  I was very reluctant to leave the seminary early.  I had six months to go.  So I said I think maybe we should wait.  But I joined Dr. King because of Jackie's strength and support.  And I am indebted to her.  She was a law student and a masters at A&T (North Carolina A&T University in Greensborough, NC), and a mother, and a PhD from Northwestern - Jackie, I thank you so much! 
I said we'd get married on New Years Eve and have one Christmas present and celebration at the same time.  But I learned better.  We did get married 56 years ago.  I am delighted to be here tonight in the same lane. 
In 1968 Dr. King was killed April 4.  Our hearts were heavy, we were confused; and  the Black Caucus met, Charlie Rangel and that group, about nine other people.  It's when Ossie Davis said it's not the man, it's the plan.  And that's where that came from.  The very first night Congressman (Carl) Clay said where they came from; Maxine Waters the power fighting for the Panthers because she was their ally and very publicly.  I remember we have come a long way since 1983; Bob Johnson of BET sitting outside of the lobby taking interviews for the Black Caucus, and the tax relief; and Kathy Hughes and Harold Washington became the best thing in America - where we come from - and we kept on growing.  In 1968 Dr. King was killed in Memphis - 40 years through the wilderness; guess what 40 years later we were on the balcony in the White House - the Brother in Miami took us to the Mountain, literally.  Politically our best days are ahead of us.  4 million Blacks in the South are unregistered, and two and a half million are registered, but don't vote.    Time - we can make bricks with votes; the power to take our country back....Our best days.  Can you imagine we'll have a Governor from Georgia and Florida; from Mississippi, from Maryland...our best days are ahead of us.  Let nothing break our spirit.  We are attacked sometimes, sometimes unfair...I went to jail in 1960 - 19 years old,  went to the library and took some books.  I looked back across those years.  I can't only say to my friends as  I challenge you to not give up.  I'm still marching.  Don't give up and don't surrender.   KEEP HOPE ALIVE!"

Ms. Jacqueline "Jackie" Jackson expressed her appreciation: "I am happy to stand before this distinguished body and express how grateful I am to be tonight as you recognize my husband, Jesse Jackson, of whom I am extremely proud.   As a Womanist, feminist, I am not afraid, nor am I ashamed to carry the name of my man.  I was Jackie Brown at A&T when Reverend Jackson - I saw this young man going my way, and I liked what I saw.  And I'm so grateful that tonight we stand here before all the world.  And in all the world of strong and courageous women, I am happy to be here this day.  And I am going to make two mistakes.  I am going to mention God in a political arena; and I'm going to offer some advice, because in our time, Reverend.  Lamont Godwin - many of you are too young to know him - I spoke to him about a problem for whch I was not optimistic about; and he said to me, "Miss J, leave room for the GOD Factor.  What is the GOD Factor?  Leave GOD room to manage the outcome in all of challenges.  That has worked for me, I leave GOD room to manage the outcome of situations.   Now I'm going to offer some advice.  I was asked to join so many who have been on this stage:  Don't let these lights fool you.  Don't let these lights fool you.    As my daughter, Dr. Jackson said to me once, people ought not ask for big things; ask for things your size.  If you are afraid, stay home.  Don't come up here.  If you're afraid, stay home.   My mother used to say, "Every smile is not happy; to remember that young people.  Every good bye ain't gone.  Every knock down is not a knock out.  If you find yourself on the ground, climb back up to your full height, back straight, on both feet, and look them straight in the eye - and you'll be winning all the time.  You do so much for this distinguished body."

They exited to a standing ovation.  

These are some of the photos taken at the 2018 Phoenix Awards

Ms. Jacqueline Jackson at the CBCF Phoenix Awards, prior to being honored by the CBCF

The epitome of elegance, I got Jackie to show off her signature CocaCola custom made evening bag

Jackie Jackson with Dr. Zyra McCloud, Gloria Dulan-Wilson (me) and author Deborah Kelly

Jackie Jackson with son Joseph Jackson prior to Phoenix Awards Dinner 

Proud mom Jackie Jackson with daughter, Dr. Jackson

The icing on the cake was the keynote by Reverend William Barber, who drove up from North Carolina because all airports were shut down during the threat of hurricane Florence.  He had a message to deliver, and was not going to let anything stop him.   He asked that the audience keep all those in the wake of the hurricane in their prayers.  

"I want to talk about knowing who we are in times like these.  Since I'm a preacher, I hope no one minds if I uote the verse in Hebrews, Chapter 10 that says that we are not those who shrink back from destruction; but we are among those who have faith and and are saved." Because the speech was both extensive and passionate.   Suffice it to say that Rev. Barber put the entire CBC and the audience on notice that there is no time for game playing, not only do we have to vote, but we have to make sure that everybody else does so as well. 

 For those of you who are interested in viewing the PHOENIX AWARDS in its entirety, click on the link below:


Laurence Fishburne receives the Leadership in Fine Arts Award from the CBC (from ESSENCE Publications):
Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Ebanks, and John David Washington

On Wednesday, September 12, the CBCF held it's annual kickoff, and actor Laurence Fishburne,  was honored at the 22nd Annual Celebration of Leadership in Fine Arts, which was hosted by the CBC Spouses and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Also honored were Michelle Ebanks, ESSENCE Communications president, and John David Washington of

Fishburne credits his mother, Hattie Bell Fishburne,  for recognizing his acting talent, and encouraging him at the tender age of 10.   during his childhood.  “She pushed me,”  he said, emotionally.  

He also credited the Congressional Black Caucus for the success of his career.  “You guys have been a part of my consciousness all my life. You guys came into being when I was 10 years old,” he noted. “But I was 10 years old was when I became an actor.  I fell in love with the work because as an actor I realized I could be anything,” Fishburne continued, “the work that the CBC has done was to ensure that I got the opportunity to do that.” 

Michelle Ebanks brought the audience to their feet when describing what lengths it took to have ESSENCE become 100 percent Black-owned while accepting the evening’s Trailblazer Award. After a strained relationship with the magazine’s former owner, Ebanks told the audience that she “agitated for our independence.” 

“‘Sell us! Because we don’t belong here.’ They didn’t want to sell us. They wanted our profits. But finally, they were under so much pressure that they had to,” Ebanks recalled. “And we found an amazing buyer in Richelieu Dennis, and the Dennis family.  We are now 100 percent Black-owned,” Ebanks said to cheers and applause. “Black media needs to be here…because the work is great and our ambition is to be so much more.” 
John David Washington, who received the Trendsetter Award, called the evening “such a huge honor."  During his acceptance speech, Washington recalled making his latest critically-acclaimed film, Blackkklansman, which centers on a Black detective Ron Stallsworth infiltrating the KKK.  “Truth is stranger than fiction."   

Washington, who is the son of Denzel and Pauletta Washington said before noting “one of the most intense scenes” he had to film.  The scene was when Stallsworth had to work security detail for David Duke, the then-leader of the KKK.   “As I was preparing for the scene I asked Ron how did he keep his nerves together…and he told me he had to check his emotions and focus on the mission. Focus on the mission,” Washington said to applause. “The larger mission—dismantling the mechanisms of hate—matters just as much today, if not more.

California Congresswoman Maxine Waters at the Marriott Marquis 

NY Congressman Gregory Meeks

Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush who presented Jesse & Jackie Jackson with the Lifetime Achievement Award
Ambassador, Author, Activist, Minister Suzan Johnson Cook
NY Assemblywoman and friend Latrice Monique Walker

Black Journalist Extraordinaire Roland Martin

 I  think it worth our while to participate in the Congressional Black Caucus's Annual Legislative Weekend - Schools should bring Black students, businesses  owners should get to know their representatives; organizations should join with their Representatives to present programs and Braintrusts.  There is so much we can accomplish if we work together.  And, who knows, you might just end up being a Phoenix Awardee.


Stay Blessed & 


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