500 Attend African American Organizations Making Connections

From left to right: Congresswoman Barbara Lee, founding Black Panther Party Chairman Bobby Seale, and Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson at the 2nd African American Organizations Making Connections at Laney College on Feb. 23. Photo credit: Reginald James.

In celebration of Black History Month, Supervisor Keith Carson and community leaders held the African American Organizations Making Connections 2013 conference, “Strategies and Outcomes for Our Black Community,” Feb. 23 at Laney College in Oakland.  More than 500 people attended. “The Black community faces many challenges, including high unemployment, Black-on-Black violence and poor health outcomes,” said  Carson. “Making Connections 2013 was an opportunity for us to come together as one, establish a vision for the future and identify concrete actions that we can take to improve the lives of Black people right now,” he said. Congresswoman Barbara Lee told of her efforts through the Congressional Black Caucus and as a member of the Appropriations Committee to increase educational and economic opportunities for African Americans in the Bay Area and around the country. Former Black Panther Party leaders Elaine Brown and Bobby Seale and Ella Baker Center Executive Director Jakada Imani participated in the plenary panel, “A Look into the Black Community: Where We Have Been, Where We Are, Where We Are Going.” Seale recounted his experience growing up in Texas and the racism he faced as a young man.  “The precept of White supremacy and precept of Black inferiority was enshrined in racist laws, which had to be changed through the legislative process,” he said. In the 1960s, there were only about 50 African American elected officials nationwide, Seale said.  Now, in addition to President Obama, there are thousands of African Americans officials at the local, state, and Congressional levels. Brown spoke about the ongoing plight of poverty and unequal educational opportunities for Blacks. “The problems of racism and economic inequality and war are all connected,” she said.  “Today, we don’t want to say ‘poor people.’ We only talk about the middle class.  We need a new movement to address poverty.” Dr. Siri Brown, Chair of African American Studies at Merritt College, reported that the conference’s   “Black Men /Black Women” workshop come to the conclusion that “Good communication starts with self work.” African Americans need to reach out and ask for help from others who have been down the path of navigating relationships, marriage and children, she said. Out of the “Faith-Based & Community Organizations” workshop came a commitment from Allen Temple Baptist Church to host a roundtable to continue the conversation about how to better collaborate, coordinate and reduce barriers to providing social services to the Black community. Organizers created BlackLink, a free social network to keep people connected to the Black community. Login from a computer or smart phone by visiting: http://blacklink.ning.com/. Making Connections 2013 was sponsored by Supervisor Carson, Alameda Alliance for Health, Clorox, Kaiser Permanente, Comcast, Laney College and the Socially Responsible Network.
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