News| Politics | Less Glitz, More Focus on Blacks'Future

Posted: 02/11/2008 04:10 PM EST

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Posted Sept. 21, 2005 – There will be less parties and glitz during this year's Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) weekend. 

The CBC and CBC Foundation leaders say they've decided to scale back some of the activities out of respect for victims of Hurricane Katrina. 

“It’s very difficult to talk about having major black-tie events at a time when people are suffering, so one of the first things we decided to do was, rather than have our annual gala be black-tie and gowns, we’re going to allow people to come and wear whatever they want to wear, suit and tie, no tie. We felt that would give a more somber tone to the event. We’re not trying to make this thing gala,” says CBCF President and Chief Executive Don Tharpe.

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The economic and social equity agenda of the CBC has been illuminated by the devastation to the mostly Black hurricane victims. Therefore, many of the string of issues forums and brain trusts at this year’s annual legislation conference will incorporate the hurricane tragedy, likely heating up discussions, CBC Chairman Mel Watt (D-N.C.) said.

“One of the things that Katrina demonstrated more substantially than anything was that poor people -- who happened to be disproportionately African-American -- were not able to, because of their financial condition, get out of the way of the storm, whereas other people who were higher income were able to get out of the way of it,” Watt told the Afro-American newspaper. “So, there are aspects to this that reinforces what a number of our forums were dealing with anyway.”

The National Town Hall meeting on Thursday, is themed “Eradicating Poverty: Removing the Disparities vs. the Innate Drive for Survival and Success,” according to the preprinted schedule.

Among a number of forums on the labor crisis, economics and the Black community, other issue forums will include discussions on voting and civil rights, the Black Church and politics, eliminating the spread of HIV/AIDS, child welfare, re-entry for prisoners, national health care, reparations and Black women in politics.

Pop star Kenny ''Babyface'' Edmonds, was originally scheduled to entertain at the annual awards dinner, but he’s being replaced by a “more religious-oriented kind of entertainment format,” Watt describes. And the prayer breakfast will be dedicated almost exclusively to the hurricane tragedy.
 
Members of the CBC have been asked either to  cancel their parties and receptions or ask corporate sponsors to divert the money to hurricane survivor assistance or hold the event, but donate the proceeds to a hurricane fund or ask guests to make donations over and above their admission fees.

Tharpe told the newspaper that the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina's effect had a much bigger impact on our community than 9/11 because we saw people being taken away from their homes, families being pulled apart, people hungry and people dying on the streets.


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