4TH Annual NC Black Summit to Focus on Strengthening Community During Harsh Economy
“Historically, minority and underserved communities fare worse than the general population in times of economic distress,” says Mayor Fred Yates, chairman of the Alliance. “It seems that when the rest of America gets a cold, the Black community gets pneumonia,” he says. “It is important in these tough economic times that leadership focuses on helping those most devastated by our economic upheaval to determine strategies to quickly bring relief where it is most needed.”
The Summit will tackle that issue head-on, beginning with a pre-conference workshop presented by Dr. Jim Johnson, director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center at the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. Johnson’s workshop, titled “Creating Highly Competitive Communities in an Era of Economic Uncertainty,” will focus on expanding economic opportunity in underserved communities. The pre-conference workshop sponsored by the North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development, will serve as the foundation for the 3-day workshop.
Again the Alliance will key in on 5 key areas that influence the quality of life for North Carolina’s Black community: Economic Empowerment, Education, Health, Crime & Justice, and Political Effectiveness. Alliance Executive Director Brad Thompson says that the Black Summit will provide participants the opportunity to discuss how local communities can effectively use the stimulus package and how to better prepare the next generation to recognize and take advantage of emerging opportunities.
“These are times like none other most of us have seen in our lifetimes,” says Thompson. We have to be creative and we have to be proactive. We hope for participants to walk away from this Summit having a better handle on how to not only survive this current crisis, but to thrive as the economy rebounds.” Thompson says that the unique coalition between elected officials, public policy advocates and community members is a perfect convergence of intellect, resources and opportunity to not just identify the problems, but to proactively move toward solutions.
Rev. Al Sharpton, political, civil rights and social justice activist will be keynote speaker at the Banquet, to be held Friday evening. Rev. Sharpton will speak to the group on “Assuming Leadership without Excuses.” Also scheduled to appear is North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue. Gov. Perdue has been invited to speak during the noon Luncheon on Friday on the topic “Keeping People First: Establishing priorities for North Carolina during Challenging Economic Times.”
This year the Summit will have an added focus on the faith-based community. “The church has always been a key player in working toward positive social change” says Yates. “We are inviting members of the faith community to join us to talk about ways to help our community through this tough economic time,” he says. On Saturday, April 25, the Summit will hold a Prayer Breakfast where Rev. Joseph George of Newbern, NC will bring remarks. The Prayer Breakfast will be followed by a general session where participants will discuss how to leverage assets to make the best use of government resources available through the new stimulus package.
Also new this year is a vendor’s court. Both corporate and community vending opportunities are available.
The Alliance, which sponsors the Annual Black Summit, is made up of a cross-section of Black elected officials throughout the state, along with partner organizations such as the State NAACP conference of Branches, Old North State Medical, the Masons, SEANC, the AFL-CIO, the NC Black Publishers Association, the North Carolina Leadership Caucus, the North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development and the North Carolina Association of CDCs, has a dual mission. In addition to identifying issues of concern to the Black community, the Alliance will also provide black elected officials the opportunity to share best practices and to learn how to more effectively serve in their roles as public officials. The Alliance will serve as a training ground for public and elected official aspirants, newly elected officials, and as a think tank for veterans who want to be more effective in their public positions.