Rev. Al Sharpton's Weekly Blog

Rev. Sharpton’s Conference for Our Future Existence

Apr 01, 2010

History will be made. For the first time on live television, principal African American leaders from the academic, religious, social and political sectors will pledge a 12-month plan of action to combat the plethora of challenges presently facing our community. This unprecedented ‘Measuring the Movement’ roundtable, part of our larger National Action Network’s Annual Convention taking place at New York’s Sheraton Hotel and Towers on April 14th through the 17th, will finally provide a forum whereby everyone can have a virtual seat at the discussion table. At a time of competing dualities with the recent passage of health care reform, and increasingly staggering unemployment numbers, the nation as a whole is enduring unpredictable times. And for the African American community, the effects of instability are unfortunately often felt tenfold. In 2010, there could be no greater time to convene for our NAN convention, and no greater time to hold everyone – including ourselves – accountable.

Taking NAN’s annual conference to new heights this year, we will conduct events that are perhaps as diverse and in-depth than one could have ever imagined. Attendees include humanitarian and musician Wyclef Jean, President & CEO of NBC Universal Jeff Zucker, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Dr. Bill Cosby, Chairman of the DNC Tim Kaine, CEO of the National Urban League Marc Morial, RNC Chairman Michael Steele, internationally acclaimed artist Mariah Carey and a slew of others. Touching on everything from health care to media coverage of minority communities, to combating the racial achievement gap and much more, our convention will include panel discussions, award ceremonies, leadership roundtables, youth discussions, plenary sessions and receptions all with the goal of highlighting areas of improvement and real methods of resolution.

On the final day of the convention, Saturday April 17th, we will conduct this crucial ‘Measuring the Movement: Black Leadership’s 12-month Action Plan’ roundtable that will include prominent African American leaders representing constituencies from around the country who will assess our current state and what they and their respective organizations pledge to do over a 12-month period. The event will air live on TV One and MSNBC will also air a special on this historic forum. I will be joined on this leadership roundtable by the CEO of the National Urban League Marc Morial, President & CEO of the NAACP Benjamin Jealous, President & CEO of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Dr. Elsie Scott, Coalitions Director for the RNC Angela Sailor and President & CEO of NAFEO Lezli Baskerville. This unique and groundbreaking event will be hosted by radio legend Tom Joyner and CNN’s Roland Martin.

Complimenting the ‘Measuring the Movement’ roundtable that Saturday will be a secondary panel that will include recording artist Chuck D, BET personality Jeff Johnson, professor at Harvard Law Dr. Charles Ogletree, TLC Health Care Services President Debra Toney, Warren Ballentine of ‘The Warren Ballentine Show’, assistant professor of finance at Syracuse University Dr. Boyce Watkins and Judge Greg Mathis, star of the Court TV series, ‘The Judge Mathis Show’. The roundtable will engage in a thorough discussion with this secondary panel as we intelligently debate key issues like skyrocketing unemployment, health care reform, education gaps, housing foreclosures, job creation and more. We will each pledge real action to effectively combat many of these concerns, and we will reconvene next year to pinpoint exactly which promises we delivered on and how we created tangible results. It is undeniably crucial at this stage that we as a community cannot simply have a conversation about inequalities and disparities that surround us, but we must take real, actionable measures to bring about the constructive change we seek. The stakes couldn’t be higher; the time couldn’t be more pressing; and the risk of not doing anything is simply far too great and troubling. Even though we will continue to hold the President and our elected officials accountable, I cannot stress how important it is to hold ourselves as equally accountable too. Everyone will undoubtedly leave enlightened, re-energized and motivated to counter the disparities we see around us.

Although we urge everyone to attend NAN’s conference in person, we understand that there are logistical limitations that prohibit people from traveling to NY. That is why we have taken the unprecedented step of airing Saturday’s ‘Measuring the Movement’ event live on TV so that people around the nation may witness our 12-month pledge, and so that nothing – not even financial limitations – can prohibit someone from taking part in seeking solutions to the most urgent civil rights issues of the day.

We often teach our children, that the only way to garner change and advance society is to eliminate discrepancies in the social order of life. When there is equality across racial and class lines, we all benefit. In order to compete and rise on a global scale, the nation as a whole must advance – and it begins with rectifying our many wrongs and assisting the most oppressed and vulnerable among us. Join NAN as we gather for another historic civil rights convention April 14th-17th in NY, and for those who are unable to make it, remember to catch a live broadcast on Saturday the 17th on TV One.

Join the fight for justice, for equality and the fight to honor the legacy of the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.