President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave as they depart the stage after Obama addressed the 43rd annual Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Legislative Conference dinner in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013. The dinner is part of a four-day conference on public policy affecting Black communities in America and overseas. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)(AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
by Byron Scott
(NNPA)–If numbers make an event a success, then day two of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual convention was just that.
The halls and conference rooms of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest Washington, D.C. were filled with attendees who sat in on policy sessions, made plans to attend a bevy of social functions, and networked with other convention-goers.
The CBCF’s Annual Legislative Conference is a gathering of African-American industry leaders, policy makers, elected officials and citizens. More than 70 policy sessions were planned for the four-day event, which began Sept. 18. As the convention unfolded, events took place in every corner of the building.
Several dozen people sat and listened to the Rev. Al Sharpton as he broadcast his radio show, “Keeping it Real with Al Sharpton” from the convention center. One of his guests was David Dinkins, the former mayor of New York, who talked about his just-published memoir, “A Mayor’s Life: Governing New York’s Gorgeous Mosaic”
The Rev. Al Sharpton, left, stands with Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton as President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama greet audience members at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s (CBCF) 43rd Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) Phoenix Awards Dinner at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
One of the most well-attended sessions was titled: “Where Do We Go From Here? 50 Years After the March,” remembering the 1963 March on Washington. Some 250 people filled the large room, some to catch a glimpse and hear from Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the civil rights icon and last surviving speaker from the 1963 event.
Among those in attendance was Travoris Culpepper of Mobile, Ala., who said he believes the justice system needs to change.
“In our justice system, [there] is definitely a big difference,” he said. “We saw that with Trayvon Martin. It was clear as day. Everybody knew exactly what happened in that situation, but yet this person was able to murder an innocent child and then go on to live his life as if nothing happened.”
Another big draw was a session with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder entitled “Mandatory Minimums: Rethinking Failed Sentencing Policies and Targeting Money Laundering and Major Drug Traffickers.” Waters, who has been advocating for changes in sentencing laws for 15 years, hosted the event.