10th Annual State of The Black Union
Los Angeles-Tavis Smiley’s State of The Black Union returned to Los Angeles for the 10th Anniversary of Conversations, on February 28, 2009 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
This year’s theme focuses on “Making America As Good As It’s Promise.” The symposium captured the essence of what it has meant for African Americans to be enlightened, encouraged, and empowered by the solution driven conversations over the years.
There were two different symposiums, a morning as well as an afternoon section.
I attended the afternoon section which drew a larger crowd. I believe the reason for this is that some people stayed around for the second section, and thanks to technology, people called friends, and family to join them. Another reason was that many people like me were at the The Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program: 2009 African American Men’s Health & Empowerment Summit at the California Science Center, a couple of miles south of the Los Angeles convention Center. For three hours, the crowd was thoroughly engaged, entertained (funny comments), educated. I felt elated and left the Los Angels Coliseum invigorated as if I just left church after hearing a powerful sermon.
I’m surprise that the roof of the Los Angeles Convention wasn’t raised off of the Convention Center with the diverse gathering of some of the nation’s most influential thinkers, entertainers and politicians assembled for this year’s symposium. The afternoon symposium featured Danny Bakewell Sr., Lani Guinier, Al Sharpton, Na’im Akbar, Karen Bass, Cornell West, Michael Steele, Erica Williams, Emilie Townes, Van Jones, Jawanza Kunjufu, Julianne Malveaux and Randall Robinson. Tavis Smiley served as Moderator.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa welcomed the audience on behalf of the City of Los Angeles. He noted the historical era that we currently live in, and acknowledged his owned legacy as the first Latino Mayor of Los Angeles in over 100 years.
Tavis Smiley donned his professor’s hat and/or Pastor Robe to bring the audience/ congregation up to par about the need for the State of The Black Union. Why conversations had to be ongoing. “We knew we had become the caretakers of something very special, of a movement that would greatly impact African Americans. We also knew somehow the dialogue that has begun in 2000 had to continue,” Smiley said. “We did not foresee a 10-year span, but we are humbled by the breadth and scope of the events and what they have meant to communities all over the country.” The symposium was broadcast live to millions of viewers on C-SPAN.
The panel addressed current issue facing the African American community in an era of President Barack Obama. Education, unemployment, healthcare, financial well being, crime reduction and the justice system. The panel was all in agreement about the importance of citizens being actively involved in the political process at the local level and the need to hold elected officials accountable.
Van Jones, Founder and President of Green For All mentioned that people should start training for jobs in the Green Collar fields. In the March 1st issue of the Los Angeles Times, front page, is an article about classes at Cerro Coso Community College in Kern County offering courses in Wind Technology Boot Camp. Shasta College in Redding is also offering courses to position students for Green Jobs of the future. You can Google search “Wind-power Industry Seek Trained Workforce” or go to the www.losangelestimes.com .
Erica L. Williams, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Campus Progress and Michael Steele, Chairman Republican National Committee shared different perspectives about how President Barack Obama raised the bar on campaigning for future elections. The 18-29 year old young voters has been recognized as a strong, vibrant and thriving voting group. I just read on www.msn.com today (March 1, 2009) about how Conservatives are starting to reach out to younger generations of voters. The article is entitled “Among The Young Conservatives” You might be able to view the article on http://www.newsweek.com/id/187113?6T1=43002 .
Prince performed a FREE concert at night on the occasion of the Tavis Smiley Presents The State of The Black Union. March 1, 2009 there was a Gospel Brunch at The House of Blues Sunset Strip. Visit www.tavistalks.com for future events.