NAN Summit 2018 highlights Dr. Kings Dream “Civil Rights and Political Inclusion”
The venue for this year’s National Action Network Inc NAN could not be any more familiar, Sheraton Times Square Hotel and Towers 53rd and Seventh Avenue was where big summits such as Clinton Global Initiative and Rainbow PUSH use to hold annually. While CGI is all but extinct a little over a year ago, NAN Summit taunting civil rights, equal justice and political inclusion under present dispensation becomes even more magnified.
National Action Network was founded in 1991 by the Rev. Al Sharpton, one of the very vocal civil right leader and activist mentored by Dr. King at a very young age and today became his very ardent disciples.
NAN has made substantial progress as an organization championing the cause of civil and human rights for African- Americans especially those impacted by police brutality, social inequality, economic injustice and political disenfranchisement especially under current dispensation “Era of Trump” as some have referred to it. With about 40 chapters in the United States, Rev. Sharpton has worked assiduously with grass-root folks to mobilize and inculcate his shared vision about economic injustice and garners support which he often mobilizes to support candidates who share his ideological credo. Politicians of all stripes, especially progressive Democrats and others openly solicit his endorsement during elections. Some politicians who made the usual pilgrimage to the “House of Justice” have done so at their peril.
Rev. Al Sharpton with his star power and profile on the rise, plus April 4 marking the 50th anniversary of Dr. King assassination in Memphis, TN in 1968 one can see why many politicians clamored and honored Rev. Sharpton’s invitation to this year’s summit. So we have those who attended this year NAN Summit to include –Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Former United States Attorney Gen- Eric Holder, U.S Senator Bernie Sanders, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi,
Others include Spike Lee, Ben Jealous who was former NAACP President and currently aspiring candidate for Maryland governorship, Kudiatou Diallo, mother of Amadou Diallo the 23-year old immigrant of from Guinea in West Africa gunned down by Police in a hail of 41 bullets at the vestibule of his apartment in the Bronx.
Wednesday, April 18th NAN kicked off with Ribbon-cutting with Rev. Sharpton, Chairman Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, National Action Leadership and Elected Officials
Sharing Our Stories: Mental Health and Blacks in NYC –Remarks by The Honorable Chirlane McCray, First Lady of New York City
Thursday, April 19th –Media Panel moderated by Errol Lewis, featuring Emmy Award News Reporter Cheryl Wills of NY 1 news, Charles Blow Op-Ed Columnist, NY Times honored with an Award
Friday April 20 highlight included “Advancing Equal Education in the Era of Trump” “The Black Church Voter Mobilization”
Saturday April 21, “Measuring The Movement” “We’ve Gotta Have It! Conversation With Spike Lee And Cast of His New Netflix Series”.
There is no way a summit of this magnitude with so many powerful political progressives will go down without fire and brimstone not thrown around to drive the message and lesson home about what is considered injustice, oppression of minorities especially African- Americans in the ‘Era of Trump” who most believe rolled back or is rolling back some of the favorable legislations brother-president Obama instituted. Obama care or Affordable Health is one of such program. So many attendees from the youth to the very old, even some on wheelchair see this particular NAN Summit as a “Call for Action” and seem ready to once again roll their sleeves to fight back, typical when folks are pushed hard and with their back against the wall. However the real test will come this November with the mid-term election when if the accuracy of polls after polls predicting a sweeping Democratic Party victory. If and when this envisioned Democratic Victory occurs, well whatever is being vented on about what is wrong will I suppose begin to come to fruition.
But politics is a game even pundits cannot not always predict their outcomes. Otherwise, someone else will be occupying the White House or if you insist “the peoples house”.
So what are those progressive themes deliberately designed Agenda at NAN summit to help empower the base and galvanize support for upcoming elections and to inspire grass root folks. You have panel on Black Intellectuals, Delivering On The Black Economic Agenda: Guarding Against Economic Erosion In Our Communities, Legalize It, Don’t Decriminalize It: How To Turn Mass Incarceration Into Economic Opportunity Through The Legalization of Marijuana, Advance Equal Education In The Era Of Trump, The Black Church: 2018 Voter Mobilization, It’s Not Class Or Poverty, It’s Racism! How To Combat The Attack On Black Males In The Era Of Trump.
The question now about next step depends on how all who were part of this summit interprets and summarizes the message they heard, their willingness to embrace this ‘Call For Action” and for pundits to measure the impact and outcome after November. But one thing is for sure, its imperative the economic, social and political condition of folks at the bottom of the economic ladder need some lifting up. Like the Dr. Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. said “Don’t look down on somebody unless you are helping them up”.