Special Correspondent: C. D. West
My first experience at the Congressional Black Caucus Weekend was one I will always remember even if I never go back. But based on my business dealings, I will definitely attend another caucus at some point, but it want be next year. I think my hustling spirit and ambitions did enough this past trip to last for a few years.
|President Obama presses the flesh after |
his speech at the Black Caucus (Photo: Atwintoo)
I got to see President Obama's speech to the over 3,000 people locked down in the grand ballroom and the room was electrifying. The president and first lady emerged on stage to a standing ovation and as Michelle Obama exited the stage the president went hard and direct on his so-called base and literally begging for their continued support.
But that wasn't the highlight for me. I attended a half dozen panel discussions, but the three that made my visit to D.C one to remember. The new leadership democracy piece, the ex-offender panel and the hip hop activism panel were very impressive and informative.
Illinois Congressman Danny Davis hosted a series of chat sessions on the importance of America opening its arms and allowing the nations most outcast residence to assimilate back into society. Chicagoan, Melvin Bailey , owner of Community Male Empowerment Project (CMEP) showed a well produced documentary of how his organization on the Westside has helped ex-offenders regain their lives and become respectable citizens. The dozens of individuals CMEP helps, also encourages ex-offenders to help take brothers off the streets to provide them with apprenticeships in several aspect of home building, rehab, repair, yard and lawn care.
|Rhymefest and panel discussing |
Hip Hop and Politics (Photo:Atwintoo)
Two other Chicagoans, hip hop artist and Grammy winner Rhymefest and film producer Tonja Styles showed why I'm proud to be from the CHI. They both delivered hard hitting details on hip hop locally, nationally and globally. Tonja was soft but direct, and she was there to promote her latest project in partnership with VH1 titled Planet Rock: The Story of Hip Hop & The Crack Generation. And Rhymefest was the stand out panelist and everyone stood and applauded his approach to blending hip hop and public policy. He discussed how running for office was worse than any issue dealing with hip hop culture. He expressed how he had never seen such hate in rap music like he experienced within both political parties. He claimed he was shocked!
This panel was hosted by Indiana Congressman Andre Carson, who's also a young emerging political figure who was one of the first national politicians to send Rhymefest a check when he announced his candidacy for alderman of the 20th Ward, which he barely lost to incumbent Willie Cochran last February.
The most impressive and life changing panel was the Democracy engagement with young leaders from around the world who either work in government or own and operate their own political action networks. First, let me say that the country is in great shape. This was the nation's best and brightest gathered to engage and share their thoughts on solutions - not problems or blaming the three corner hustler, drugs dealers or lost and confused kids. They discussed passion and commitment to their community, country, government and most importantly, President Obama.
|Coca Cola's Morris Smith and Carl West|
joined by a Chicagoan (Photo: Atwintoo)
|Wallace Gator, Isaiah Thomas, |
and MG Media's Carl West (Photo: Atwintoo)
|Congressman John Lewis at a Coke Sponsored Party (Photo: Atwintoo)|
I connected with fellow Chicagoans like State Rep Ken Dunkin, Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., Loop Capital's Jim Reynolds, Dominga Johnson of Mi Spa, Peggy Austin of GoldStar Communication, AT&T's Sam Balark and Kim McCullough, UPS's LaRue Martin and former US Cellular, now DNC's VP Chief Diversity Manager Greg Hinton, rap artist Common, community activist Wallace Gator, Hall of Fame basketball stand out Isiah Thomas, businessman Ralph Moore and Urban Prep'sTim King. I even met Republican propaganda pusher, Armstrong Williams, and we enjoyed some interesting small talk. We negotiated and agreed to allow his weekly column to appear in TBTNewsService.com starting this week, and every Friday.Two hot parties was Coke's sponsored Georgia Dinner honoring Congressman John Lewis, with Chicagoan and Coke executive, Morris Smith, being an excellent host. But the party where people could let their hair down and hit the dance floor was television personality Roland Martin's 3rd annual ascot party, which was planned and produced by another Chi town alum and national event planner Kenny Johnson. The DJ was banging and Sharron Troupe, also from Chicago ripped up the dance floor and the three men accompanying her couldn't keep up. Overall it was a great time - Chicago ROCKED!