The National Action Network, a grassroots political organization headed by Rev. Al Sharpton, will kick off its annual convention tomorrow in Washington, DC. The 2012 convention, which will convene from April 11-14 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the nation’s capital, will feature a political and corporate “who’s who” of leaders. During the convention, dignitaries such as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius will congregate to discuss issues that are critical to people of color in sessions that are free and open to the public.
“Each year NAN hosts the national convention to bring together influential leaders in civil rights, government, business and media and within the church to focus on the issues most important in civil rights that year including voting rights, education, jobs, healthcare, youth violence and social justice,” NAN leaders said in a statement released to the press.
The National Action Network annual convention is a rare opportunity for people of color and those concerned with issued that impact average Americans to speak directly to those responsible for making high-level decisions in the private and public sectors.
Black news site NewsOne.com reports that attendees can look forward to a panel on criminal justice led by Harvard Law School professor, Dr. Charles J. Ogletree, a former teacher of President Obama. In addition, political experts Jonathan Capehart and Nia-Malika Henderson, both writers for the Washington Post, will be on hand to lead dialogues about the impact of race on media coverage related to communities of color.
From the public sector, six high-ranking officials from the Obama administration are expected to attend, some leading dialogues about concerns that impact African-Americans most, such as persistently higher unemployment rates.
The plenary sessions will conclude with a televised symposium aimed at developing long-term programs that will hold government officials, political activists, and more accountable for implementing positive change — including individual members of the black community.
The event, called “Measuring the Movement: Black Leadership’s 12-Month Action Plan,” will be held at Howard University and feature black leaders from across the country broaching topics such as healthcare disparities.
Rev. Sharpton has stressed that the NAN convention was created to develop valid, practical answers and concrete social solutions. Ideally, members of the public and high-profile notables will use this opportunity to map the next best steps for communities of color seeking to improve our lives within America’s shifting landscape.
Rev. Sharpton does not want the NAN convention to merely provide another platform for well-meaning talking heads.
“Otherwise, we’re just having a soundbite forum,” Sharpton told NewsOne. “We determined when we started making the movement three years ago to stop the soundbites where everyone sits on the stage, give their best lines, and nothing happens. Our people need accountability and concrete progress.”
(Rev. Sharpton is the host of Politics Nation, a program that airs on MSNBC. NBCUniversal is the parent company of MSNBC and theGrio.com.)
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