In the spirit of 1963, the transformative year in Civil Rights that propelled the freedom movement in America, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) celebrated extraordinary contributions to culture and communities at their 43rd Legislative Conference Annual Phoenix Awards Dinner in the Nation’s Capitol. This year’s theme was “It Starts with You!”
The Annual Phoenix Awards Dinner ignited a true call to action and forward movement by presenting President Barack Obama as the Keynote speaker and shining symbolism of service and one who like the Phoenix bird has “risen out of the ashes” to become a true change agent. While the atmosphere was adorned with designer gowns, tuxedos and extravagant attire, the awards ceremony embodied the awesomeness of individuals who live each day to inspire, make a difference and fight for equality.
With first Lady Michelle Obama right by his side, President Barack Obama more than mesmerized the Phoenix Awards Dinner, he exuded strength in his tone, fire in his message and he connected the dots of real domestic issues that are plaguing the country.
“Equality has to go hand and hand with economic opportunity. We have to make it easy for every American to earn their piece of the American dream. We need a justice system that works for everybody. We have to pick up the torch of economic justice so that everyone who works hard can earn their way to the middle class,” said President Obama.
From breaking down what Obama Care is all about. The president revealed that secured, affordable and quality healthcare means that millions of Americans will have access to paying under $100 for health insurance via the passing of the proposed Health Care Reform. Without missing a beat, the President talked about how the nation must face the challenge of gun violence that in most recent tragedies is tearing families apart.
“We cannot rest until all of our children can go to school and not have to worry about the fear of being struck by a stray bullet. In my hometown of Chicago just yesterday 13 people were shot including a 3-year-old girl. We fought a good fight this year, but we came up short this year and we have to fight to save our children!” rallied President Obama. “I may get disappointed but the reality still remains that I have a job to do. Just recent they (Republicans) tried to cut 40 million dollars towards nutritional programs. Some of those folks (Republicans) are taken subsidies themselves. This is part of the reason why I do not get tired and I am still fired up!”
Filled with thousands of policy changers, African American members of Congress, activist, celebrities, entrepreneurs and freedom fighters, the dinner was hosted at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The Annual Phoenix Awards featured guests Judge Greg Mathis, Wendell Pierce (actor), Tamron Hall (news anchor) and The Clarence Knight Orchestra. Uniting and radiating the dinner guests with classic Motown melody, “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand,” casts from the Motown Musical at Broadway sung nostalgic Motown tunes reminiscent of the civil rights era.
Other dinner highlights included watching a special video message from award recipient former President Bill Clinton, the Fallen Hero Tribute and the Spirit of 1963 special tribute to the martyrs of 1963 to include the late civil rights activist Medgar Evers and the four little girls that were murdered in the Birmingham bomb.
“It’s such a blessing to be here tonight. I came to hear President Obama, but realizing that we all have to make our contribution to our people and society,” said Angela Winn an attendee from New Jersey.
Formed in 1976 just a decade away from the uprooted struggle of civil rights as a nonpartisan, nonprofit, public policy, research and educational institute, the mission of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation promotes the advancement of political, social and educational leadership within the global Black community. The CBCF is made up of 43 exceptional African American men and women in Congress who are committed to closing the gaps of disparities and injustice that still exists for millions of African Americans.
“All I can say is only God! We (CBCF) don’t do good politics. We do good policy because of our faith, pain and passion. We do good policy because of the need to carry-out our purpose and what is in our soul,” said Representative Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD).