The Dream Still Demands

Zaneta J Smith
Oct 8, 2018 · 2 min read
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Almost a month ago I attended the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 48th Annual Legislative Conference. Imagine a chance to engage 100 panels on issues from an African-American perspective. Social justice, public health, education, criminal justice, and more. All things black, all things policy…for one weekend. The Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. was full of politicos, media professionals, students, and concerned citizens. We engaged a space to process feelings and thoughts about current policies that affect black people. A safe space to praise accomplishments and learn more about the actions people are taking to make America great for African Americans.

The theme for the conference was the The Dream Still Demands; linking the past success of civil rights movements to today’s struggle and progress. California’s own Democratic Senator Kamala Harris was a headliner. In addition, California’s U.S. Representative Maxine Waters led a panel on policies around criminal justice. U.S. Representative Karen Bass (CA) led a panel educating and celebrating Africa’s diversity. Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer hosted the California party where residents, staffers, professionals, and others were able to network and chill.

Throughout the weekend, the theme prompted me to ponder on the dream, what it means, and demands for African-American California residents. The dream demands action, problem solvers, and people with heart. The dream demands commitment, persistence, and strategic planning. The dream demands sacrifice.

The sub-theme of the conference was Courage, Resilience, Leadership, and Education. I thought about San Francisco Mayor London Breed and the courage it takes to get her city back on track. I pondered on the Black California residents in the 1960s who integrated school districts so that some forty years later I could attend a diverse high school that provided me with a global life perspective. I reflected on the leadership education I received via the Los Angeles African American Women’s Public Policy Institute (LAAAWPPI), who facilitated a panel at the conference. I engaged in conversations with individuals from across the country and became more educated on the effects of policy in different regions.

My favorite panel was the policy hack in which groups of attendees generated solutions to broad problems, pitched the solutions to judges, and answered questions as to why Dell should fund their solutions. I look forward to the day when technology is more heavily integrated into problem-solving for African-American communities.

CBC was a weekend of #wokeness. Congressman Carson reminded us in the Hip-Hop and Politics: This is America panel that being woke has not always been a trending movement. He said, “Everybody’s woke now. But when it was unpopular; when you would get ridiculed and mocked for being woke…[we had people leading the charge, self-sacrificing, pushing for the dream].” Today, that dream still demands courage, resilience, leadership, and education.

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