The New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators will hold its 47th annual legislative conference in Albany this weekend. This year’s theme is “On This Journey There is Still #Hope,” which is reflective of our grit as a community. While the journey has been long, and its past has been dark, it has not been in vain. We still embody the hope of today and as a force we have a brighter future ahead.
Members of the association are united by a common interest in empowering and revitalizing peoples and communities, particularly African-Americans and Puerto Ricans as well as Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans and other ethnic minorities. This conference promises an issue-packed, policy-driven agenda that encourages attendees to propose and implement real solutions to problems that have often been dismissed, delayed or institutionalized.
Recognizing the power of our voice, the association strives to create and influence policies that positively impact our communities by engaging with community-based organizations, nonprofits, government agencies and the private sector in the development of solutions to those identified issues. This year, we are proud to introduce a faith-based breakfast, which seeks to establish a civic engagement curriculum that will address pressing and impactful issues such as economic development, the 2020 census and educational resources for parents.
The weekend culminates with the 47th Annual Scholarship Gala to support the educational advancement of youth. These scholarships are an investment in our youth and in our future to cultivate the next generation of bankers, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, reverends, engineers, teachers, professors and more. We have a desire for our future leaders to have an opportunity to seize their career choices without being limited by the inability to afford tuition costs.
The Saturday workshops address issues such as minority- and women-owned business enterprises as we explore ways to overcome the many barriers that exist in obtaining this status and access to capital. Voting rights and legal experts will prepare attendees to be ready for the next round of redistricting and reapportionment through continuing legal education workshops and a panel on the census and redistricting.
We have something for the medical field as well, as we plan to address our aging hospitals and health epidemics in our communities, and explore how our hospitals and educational institutions have to remain vital if we have a viable health care agenda to accomplish. While we will begin to tackle criminal justice issues with bail reform and other pretrial woes during Saturday’s workshops, the solutions to criminal justice problems will not end there. It will be a prelude to a set of interventions at every stage of the criminal justice conversation, including detention, incarceration, rehabilitation and re-entry.
It’s not just about lending our voice to the conversation, it’s about being there consistently to shape and tell the story so that the next generation can pick up where we left off and carry on the legacy. The conference is more than just a “weekend,” it is about looking for ways to empower our communities politically, economically and socially. We’re going to use every facet of our being to do so.
We’re not leaving any stone unturned because this agenda is not finished. Success is a journey, not a destination.
NEXT STORY: NYC public employees need paid parental leave