People sometimes think that change happens overnight. They believe progress is something natural, that it occurs on its own just because it makes sense. While things like desegregation and voting rights may seem logical to reasonable folks, they didn’t simply become law on their own. There was a plan, a focus and deliberate action that took place. Nothing – and I mean nothing – changes without a plan. So if you’re tired, angry, confused or frustrated by things that just don’t seem fair or right, you have to make a plan to do something about it.
Next week, National Action Network, lead by the Rev. Al Sharpton, will be holding our annual convention in Washington, D.C. We will gather, strategize and plan for our next moves – and you’re invited.
From April 11th-14th, NAN takes over the Walter E. Convention Center in our nation’s capital as we welcome officials from the Obama administration, renowned journalists, community leaders, members of the clergy, activists in communities from across the country and anyone who wants to attend. A combination of plenary sessions, panel discussions and receptions, NAN’s four-day convention will touch on everything from economics, criminal justice, gun violence and the state of Black relationships to young professionals, sports, entertainment,immigration and more. Speakers and invited guests include U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., Harvard professor Charles Ogletree, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Lee Saunders, David Gregory of “Meet the Press,” Isaac Newton Farris Jr. of the SCLC, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, TV personality Big Tigger, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and too many others to list here.
In addition to our discussions and debate sessions, NAN will convene its annual “Measuring the Movement Forum” event at Howard University to conclude the convention next Saturday, with the first-ever collective dialogue with the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Amadou Diallo, along with Sean Bell’s widow Nicole Paultre Bell, and Melissa Bell, Mychel Bell‘s mother from the Jena 6 case. The mothers will have a candid discussion with Rev. Sharpton and a panel of experts about turning tragedy into policy and what to do about the current crisis of gun violence and police misconduct. I will be on the panel, along with Melanie Campbell from the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Inc., Isaac Newton Farris, Jr. from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Wade Henderson of The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, The Leadership Conference Education Fund, and E. Faye Williams from the National Congress of Black Women and others. Once again organizing a pinpointed strategy with realistic goals, we will hold everyone – including ourselves – accountable for fulfilling this month-by-month blueprint of organizing activism around these issues. And next year, we will go over this 12-month process as we assess exactly what was achieved and where we may have fallen short.