Saturday, March 20, 2010

"We Count! The Black Agenda is the American Agenda"

Today, broadcaster Tavis Smiley hosted African American leaders at Chicago State University at the Jones Convocation Center for a forum titled, "We Count! The Black Agenda is the American Agenda" that included panelists Rev. Jesse Jackson, Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan, Cornel West, Michael Eric Dyson, Ron Walters, Bennett College President Julianne Malveaux, Policylink CEO Angela Glover Blackwell, Former Alderman City of Chicago Dorothy Wright Tillman, author of "Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority" Tom Burrell and Chicago State U Student Government Association President Raven Curling.

Although earlier this year, Smiley announced he would no longer host his annual State of the Black Union symposium, he quickly organized this syposium out of a conflict stemming from a February White House meeting between Obama and leaders of three of the nation’s prominent civil rights groups. Smiley felt that Rev. Al Sharpton, the NAACP’s Benjamin Jealous and National Urban League’s Marc Morial were publicly backing away from pressing President Obama on addressing a Black agenda. The resulting radio clash between Sharpton and Smiley drew national attention. So there appears to be two camps forming: 1) loving aggressive critics and 2) mild critics closely allied with President Obama.

This dichotomy can be seen by those invited but not attending: Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), Valerie Jarrett, Marc Morial, Ben Jealous, Al Sharpton, and Barbara Lee. We would like to add that two important constituencies rarely represented at these types of meetings are Black business representatives and conservative Blacks.

Rev Jackson and Angela Glover briefly mentioned green jobs related to mass transit availability and construction.

Although advertised to be covered live on C-SPAN, it was preempted by coverage of the health care legislation being debated in Congress. It was covered live on C-SPAN's website from 8 a.m. through 1 p.m.

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