Firstly, the organization will target major private corporations about their employment, procurement, and inclusion practices at board levels. According to Rev. Sharpton: “the reason that Black unemployment has remained high is that the public sector jobs are being cut while the private sector has increased jobs but lowered its commitment to inclusion and hiring and doing business in our community. NAN intends to go at major industries that sell their goods in our community but do no good with our community.” Rev. Al Sharpton is sending letters this week seeking meetings with ten CEO’s of major corporations and will publicly release findings relating to business and hiring practices in communities of color.
Secondly, NAN started an “Alert Watch” since the Supreme Court is deciding on Affirmative Action and Section 5 of The Voting Rights Act–both of which Rev. Sharpton attended the oral arguments for at the Supreme Court—and NAN has issued an alert that will go into action in the event that the Supreme Court overturns either of the aforementioned policies. NAN will mobilize activists to urge Congressional action and to put pressure on the academic and corporate community if Affirmative Action is lost.
Lastly, he called on NAN delegates to put pressure on their Senators to vote on stronger Gun legislation that could come up for debate in the Senate this week.
Other highlights of the national convention included the Measuring the Movement forum on the final day that brought together three generations of civil rights leaders to discuss strategies on what can be done to sustain civil rights and the social justice movement regardless of what the court’s decisions may be. The forum featured civil rights leaders and a review by some of the legends of the civil rights movement regarding the progress made and mistakes made in the fifty years since the “March in Washington.” The Forum included civil rights icons Rev. Joseph Lowery, Juanita Abernathy, Otis Moss, Jr., and Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr., among others.
Several officials from the Obama Administration attended the NAN convention including
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Regina M. Benjamin, Surgeon General of the United States, Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, as well as leading members of Congress and activists such as Martin Luther King, III, National Urban League President Marc Morial, NAACP President Ben Jealous, Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice President Kerry Kennedy, and many others. Both the family of Hadiyah Pendleton, the 15-year-old who was fatally shot a week after performing with her high school band at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, and the family of Trayvon Martin were in attendance.
A key highlight took place on the actual date of Dr. King’s assassination on April 4th as NAN hosted its 15th Annual Keepers of the Dream Awards. The awards, given each year in April to mark the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, honor those who have continued to advocate for the principles for which Dr. King gave his life. In 2011, President Barack Obama delivered the keynote remarks at the Keepers of the Dream Awards. Among the honorees this year were: Laphonza Butler, President, SEIU (Service Employees International Union) & (ULTCW) United Long Term Care; Bishop T. D. Jakes, Global Humanitarian and Senior Pastor, The Potter’s House of Dallas; Spike Lee, Award-Winning Filmmaker & Director; Tanya Leah Lombard, Assistant Vice President, Public Affairs AT&T; Wynton Marsalis, Trumpeter, Composer and Managing and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center; Dennis Mehiel, Managing Member, Four M Investments, LLC; and Rosie Perez, Award-Winning Actress & Activist. Lori Stokes, anchor of Eyewitness News This Morning and Eyewitness News at Noon on Channel 7 WABC-TV New York. The evening featured special remarks by Martin Luther King, III the eldest son of Dr. King.
- and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
- Hadiyah Pendleton
- NAACP President Ben Jealous
- National Urban League President Marc Morial
- Ray LaHood
- Regina M. Benjamin
- Rev. Al Sharpton
- Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice President Kerry Kennedy
- Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
- Secretary of Transportation
- Surgeon General of the United States
- Trayvon Martiin