African Americans in Congress Taking on Unemployment

African Americans in Congress Taking on Unemployment

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WASHINGTON (NNPA) - The Congressional Black Caucus this year is tackling the current debilitating joblessness in the Black community head on with several sessions on the connection between education and employment at its 40th Annual Legislative Conference (ALC).

The conference will be September 15-18 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Sen. Ronald W. Burris (D- Ill) is hosting a panel “Exploring Minority Business Opportunities with the Federal Government” on Thursday, September 16, 2010. Sen. Burris, a strong advocate of looking toward the future when it comes to employment, believes Americans should devote time into learning new technologies and becoming aware of new jobs in the emerging green industry.

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, which funds the legislative conference and wants to ensure that the Black community is aware of the changing job market, new jobs and how to prepare for them.
“So many people will never return to the jobs they lost,” said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), honorary co-chair of this year’s events. “It's our responsibility to increase their ability to do the jobs that are available to them.”

They will be holding several town hall meetings throughout the week to discuss jobs and education, said Cummings.

Elsie Scott, president of the CBC Foundation, said that people need to know that federal jobs are available, but it’s no longer a matter of taking a civic exam and having an application read by a supervisor.

“There’re technological advances in the hiring process” Scott said. “A computer now scans each application looking for key words and phrases and we want the community to be cognizant of these changes to increase their chances.”

This year’s conference will also attempt to break down the complex new healthcare law through a Cliff-notes-type guidebook. Free healthcare screenings, panel discussions, and forums on serious medical issues in the Black community will be featured. But there will be particular focus on HIV/AIDS and bone marrow donation.

The sessions will include “Beyond a National AIDS Strategy: Next Steps in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Black America” and “Sister Speak: Reducing HIV/AIDS in the Black Community” and “Beyond Blood: Bone Marrow Donation Among African Americans - A Health and Wellness Luncheon.”

“CBC Foundation has an ongoing project to increase AIDs awareness with fulltime research on how to prevent the spread of this disease,” Scott said. “We have a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and are participating with other Black organizations to get out more attention to the public.”

She added, This year the conference will have at least one workshop focusing on Black women. “But we want all aspects of the community especially those at a higher risk to be informed.”

Also, for the first time in its history, the conference is partnering with the National Black Justice Coalition to hold an LGBT leadership summit. The coalition is the only nation-wide Black gay civil rights organization.

The goal of this summit is to bring attention to issues pertaining to gays and lesbians; including their fight for equality. The ultimate goal is for people to be able to come together and have open and honest discussions.

Said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, executive director of the coalition, “Black communities are in crisis. It’s critical that we support the empowerment of anyone who desires to contribute something positive to rebuilding our families, including LGBT people.”