House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Senator Hillary Clinton and Rep. Elijah Cummings, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and other Members of Congress today hosted more than 150 key African American leaders at the Second Annual African American Leadership summit.
The daylong event, titled, "From Brown to the Ballot" was held on Capitol Hill and provided a forum for examining issues of critical importance to African Americans, such as education, jobs and the economy, voting rights and health care. "Our theme, 'From Brown to the Ballot,' focused on two historic milestones in the fight for equality and opportunity -- the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education and the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act," Pelosi said. "These anniversaries are causes for celebration, but they are also a call to action - there is so much work still to be done."
Pelosi was joined by two African American community leaders from San Francisco, Eva Paterson and Clementine Clarke. Eva Paterson, once called "the civil rights leader" of San Francisco, is the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Society. Clementine Clarke is a member of the San Francisco Fire Commission and is an activist for women's issues in San Francisco.
Donna Brazile, Chair of the Democratic National Committee Voting Rights Institute, Dr. Mary Frances Berry, Chair, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the Honorable Rodney E. Slater, former Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation, Dr. William Spriggs, Executive Director, National Urban League Institute for Opportunity and Equality, and Rev. Jeffrey I. Johnson, Youth Pastor, Empowerment Temple AME Church participated in a panel discussion on ways that African Americans have been affected by the Brown v. Board Education decision and the Civil Rights Act.
"I am extremely pleased that African American leaders from all across the country came to Washington today to meet with their Congressional leaders about these crucial issues," Cummings said. "We resolved to continue to speak about issues that affect the daily lives of all Americans and to continue this critical work for our children, our communities, and the future of our great nation."
Breakout sessions on health, education, jobs and the economy were among those moderated by: Rep. Melvin Watt, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick, Rep. Donna Christensen, Rep. Donald Payne, Senator Blanche Lincoln, Senator Christopher Dodd, and Senator Richard Durbin. Keynote speaker Dennis Archer, President of the American Bar Association, spoke on the imperative to educate every child in the country. "As leaders, the burden falls on us to keep the promises extended by Brown and the Civil Rights Act in the forefront of our nation's consciousness," Archer said. "We are the guardians of those promises. It is our responsibility to see that these promises are kept."
The African American Summit is part of an ongoing effort to build on the enduring relationship between the Democratic Party and African Americans, and to reaffirm their shared values. Democrats are committed to promoting public policies that promote equality, opportunity and justice for all Americans.
"Democrats reject gradualism. We embrace big, bold ideas for America's future," Pelosi said. "We are committed to making the necessary long-term investments to ensure equality and opportunity for all Americans, from our schools to our workplaces. And as we do, we will fight to protect the right to vote against any attempt to undermine the Voting Rights Act. Every vote counts, and every vote must be counted."