Black Lawmakers to Tackle Criminal Justice Reform and Voting Rights at Annual Legislative Conference

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., is co-chairman of the 2015 legislative conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite, AP)
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., is co-chairman of the 2015 legislative conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
(Photo: J. Scott Applewhite, AP)

Criminal justice reform, restoring a key provision of the Voting Rights Act and improving policing in communities of color will top the agenda when black congressional lawmakers and others meet for an annual legislative conference next week.

“There’s a renewed assault on voting rights in America and the very troubling problems that the Black Lives Matter movement has really captured with respect to boys and men of color,’’ said Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., honorary co-chairwoman of the 45th annual Congressional Black Caucus Foundation conference. “(There’s) a serious threat to those liberties.’’

The theme of the conference, to be held from Wednesday to Sunday, is “With Liberty and Justice for all.’’

The theme “really pays homage to America’s Pledge of Allegiance, our national promise of equal rights and privilege and freedom for all Americans,’’ Sewell said. The event’s other honorary co-chairman is Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.

About 9,000 people are expected to attend the conference, which will include more than 70 issue forums and town halls, an awards dinner, a prayer breakfast and other events. President Obama will deliver the keynote address at Saturday’s awards dinner, which will honor veterans of the civil rights movement.

A Wednesday panel will feature mothers of unarmed black men killed by police, including Eric Garner, who died during a struggle with officers in New York. A town hall Thursday will focus on police-related concerns in communities of color.

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Source: USA Today | Deborah Barfield Berry

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