Rev. Al Sharpton and NAN Activists Push for Renewed Focus on Social Justice and Civil Rights in 116th Congress—
Members of Congress, potential 2020 presidential candidates, and prospective House speakers address hundreds of civil rights activists from around the country during annual NAN legislative conference
WASHINGTON — Rev. Al Sharpton and over a hundred civil rights activists gathered on Capitol Hill this week in the wake of the 2018 midterms to hear from prominent national Democrats about their plans to address an urgent social justice crisis in America as the party prepares to take control of the House of Representatives in January.
The Legislative & Policy Conference, which NAN hosts in Washington every year, took place in the wake of last week’s midterm elections and Democratic House flip. Hosting some of the nation’s most prominent Democratic elected members of Congress, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Kamala Harris, (D-CA), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the conference was an opportunity for advocates and policymakers to discuss their vision and priorities for the 116th Congress.
The conference also underscored the importance of giving people a reason to vote – and not simply relying on core constituencies to vote with no plan of action presented to fix the very issues that affect those communities.
“The Democrats have a majority in the House now,” said Rev. Al Sharpton, NAN’s president and founder, addressing the group of activists in the Russell Senate Office Building Tuesday. “But what is the agenda? We cannot keep telling people in our community to come out and vote and then we don’t know what the agenda is and what is going to be accomplished. Voting rights, healthcare – particularity pre-existing conditions – criminal justice reform, where are we on these issues and what are you going to do?”
Among the slate of issues discussed at the conference, participants spoke on prison reform, restoration of the voting rights act, criminal justice policy, and other issues predominantly impacting the African American community and other minority communities in the U.S.
“Particularly as Republicans maintain their hold on the Senate and the White House, it’s more important than ever to use this opportunity to drive home the urgency of our agenda,” said Rev. Al Sharpton, NAN’s president and founder. “This year’s speakers are a testament to the willingness of our congressmen and women to come to the table and outline a plan. We at NAN are committed to making those in charge of our government, address the bigoted, anti-civil rights, and injustices that black and brown communities face every single day in the United States.”
The conference was held in the Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building on Tuesday, November 13 and Wednesday, November 14.