Michelle Obama will speak at the Congressional Black Caucus’ legislative conference. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation was established in 1976 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit, public policy research and education institute to help improve the socioeconomic circumstances of African Americans and other underserved communities. U.S. Reps. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) and Andre Carson (D-Ind.) are serving as honorary co-chairs of this year’s conference.

“One thing that people don’t often realize is that the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) is really an issues originated conference. The purpose of the foundation and conference is to support the educational goals of young African Americans. This year we are focusing on the topics of education, health, entertainment, voting rights and voter suppression,” said Traci Hughes, director of communications for CBCF.

Whether you are already registered or thinking about attending for the first time, there is something for everyone. Here are a few highlights of this year’s conference.

Wednesday, Sept. 19

“Before it’s too late: Preventing Strokes among African Americans”

12-2 p.m.

Heart disease and diabetes are among the top killers of adult African Americans, but these conditions are also preventable. This forum will explore why adult African Americans are 50 percent more likely to have a stroke, and twice as likely to die from heart disease. Attendees will learn how to recognize the early-warning signs and what life-saving measures to take if a stroke occurs. Panelist will include physicians Richard Benson and Rani Whitfield, and singer Michelle Williams from the group Destiny’s Child.

Celebration of Leadership in the Fine Arts

8:30-10:30 p.m.

The 16th Annual Celebration of Leadership in the Fine Arts will be held at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Susan L. Taylor, editor-in-chief emeritus of Essence Magazine and founder of the National CARES Mentoring Movement will host this elegant evening of celebration. This year’s honorees include: Ambassador Bobby Jones, the host and executive producer of Bobby Jones Gospel and “The Bobby Jones Gospel Radio Show”; Kenny Leon, an award-winning director who earned 10 Tony nominations for “Fences”; and esteemed author Tayari Jones. The proceeds from this event support scholarships in the performing and visual arts.

Thursday, Sept. 20

New Attendee Welcome

8-9 a.m.

First time conference-goers can enjoy a welcome session to find out the best way to maximize your experience. All registered attendees will have access to ALC’s new mobile app which is designed to make navigating the conference easier and more interactive. It will feature videos of events and forums, photos, social networks, links to restaurants, discounts at participating locations and more.

The National Town Hall


With more than 20 states recently passing laws to change their requirements for voting, many African Americans in low-income communities may be affected. “This year, because of the change in voter ID laws in several states across the country, our focus is voter registration and voter suppression laws and really informing people about what is happening across the country, why it occurs and what people can do now,” Hughes said.

The National Townhall will also focus on new age discrimination. Panelists will include: Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC, Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga), Mel Watt (D-N.C.) and Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio); Democratic National Convention Vice Chair of Voter Registration Donna Brazile; CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill; conservative columnist Crystal Wright; and Ron Christie, a Republican political strategist.

“It’s important for people to understand that it is an absolute must that they are civically [engaged], and that means not only showing up to the polls, doing everything possible that they can [to] educate themselves about the issues that are being discussed by the candidate on the campaign trail and make an informed decision” Hughes said.

A voter tool kit will be given to townhall attendees. This step-by-step guide will assist voters with navigating the new laws on a state-by-state basis.

Instant Apprentice Luncheon

12:30 -2 p.m.

The luncheon is an opportunity to sit, chat and eat with leaders in business, finance, education, politics, government, media, science, technology, sports, nonprofit work, advocacy, entertainment and the fine arts. Some of this year’s mentors include: Jeff Johnson, CEO of Jeff’s Nation, LLC; and Kaya Henderson, Chancellor, D.C. public schools. This luncheon will be moderated by Celebrity Chef and author Rahman “Rock” Harper.

The Author’s Pavilion (Exhibit Hall)


This event will feature several authors such as Bernice A. King, Rep. John Lewis, MC Lyte, Ledisi, Colin Powell and Mikki Taylor.

Jazz Concert


At 7:30 p.m., Willard Jenkins will facilitate a meet-the-artist conversation featuring Terri Lyne Carrington, Gerald Clayton Jr. and Lizz Wright. M. Carrington’s recent recording, a re-imagining of the Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach collaboration “Money Jungle,” will be the focus of the conversation.

The concert will open with a performance by Grammy nominated saxophonist Antonio Hart and his Quintet. Headlining the concert will be drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and her Money Jungle Project, featuring Gerald Clayton (piano), Tia Fuller (saxophones), James Genus (bass) and Lizz Wright (vocals).

James Edward (Jimmy) Heath will be honored with the CBCF ALC Jazz Legacy Award for his contributions to jazz and world culture for over six decades.

Friday, Sept. 21

Ready, Set, Emerge!

“Our Voice, Our Vote”


This forum is presented by the CBCF Alumni to address and bring awareness to different forms of civic activism beyond the electoral process and encourage strong civic participation.

The Black Party

9 p.m.-1 a.m.

The highly anticipated return of the Emerging Leader’s Black Party is finally here. This year it will be held at the Howard Theatre with many surprise guest and performances.

Saturday, Sept. 22

Prayer Breakfast

7:30-10 a.m.

This year’s prayer breakfast is sure not to disappoint, with Bishop Noel Jones, pastor of the City of Refuge Church in Gardena, Calif., and a performance that includes Stellar Award winning gospel artist Kim Burrell.

Phoenix Awards Dinner


The highly anticipated Phoenix Awards Dinner is the signature closing celebration of excellence and leadership. First lady Michelle Obama will deliver the keynote address. This marks the first time in history that a first lady will deliver the keynote address. The Phoenix Award symbolizes the immortality of the human spirit and an eternal desire to reach its full potential. This year’s honorees are U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.; writer and director George Lucas; Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) and the first African American mayor of Charlotte, N.C., Harvey Gantt. After 7 will do the closing performance.

Food and fun: Where to mix, mingle and eat


901 New York Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001



This contemporary Louisiana fish house is the perfect place to experience a bit of Louisiana cuisine with the elegance of D.C. Executive Chef Brant Tesky is serving all of the traditional rich and complex flavors of Louisiana with a modern flair. The Big Easy Happy Hour, Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m., is the perfect time to experience cajun flavors with discounted cocktails and a half-price menu at the bar. Acadiana also features a Louisiana’s favorite — “Cochon du’Lait” Roasted Pig & Shrimp Boil — every Friday from 4-6:30p.m. on their outdoor patio.

Ping Pong Dim Sum

900 Seventh St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001



Located in the heart of Chinatown, this restaurant brings a modern twist to traditional Dim Sum. Dim sum means “little steamed parcels of deliciousness,” which is exactly what you can expect when you visit for happy hour or dinner.


777 Ninth St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001



Oya provides an elegant and sophisticated take on sushi and Asian-inspired cuisine. With it’s all white decor and candle light ambience, Oya is nothing less then grown and sexy. Enjoy signature cocktails and sushi specials. Oya offers $20 Lunch Prix Fixe and $35 Dinner Prix Fixe menus.

901 Restaurant and Bar

901 Ninth St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001



Under the direction of notable executive chef Thomas Hall, 901’s vibrant menu offers an array of internationally inspired dishes. The restaurant’s drink menu compliments its mouth-watering eats, with a wide range of craft cocktails, wines and beers. This hot spot, with it’s sleek and modern decor and sophisticated ambiance, is a great destination. Enjoy sharing your culinary experience with friends or a romantic partner.

Parties and receptions

Interested in getting to know the Black Public Relations Society? Or networking with the National Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division? Read The Fab Empire’s comprehensive guide to can’t-miss events in honor of the conference.

For more information or to register for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference, visit www.cbcfinc.org or follow the Twitter hash tag #CBCFALC2012.

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