“The NNPA is finally being recognized as both a national trade association of African American-owned newspapers and a national civil rights organization,” said NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. “The First Amendment is a civil right and the NNPA is leading this dual charge across the nation.”
Chavis received an invitation to the meeting from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to participate in the conference held at the historic Gracie Mansion. The theme of the conference was “Finding Unity Through Local Leadership: A Convening of Mayors and Civil Rights Leaders.”
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who serves as president of the United States Conference of Mayors, joined de Blasio, Baltimore’s Mayor Catherine Pugh, Louisville’s Mayor Greg Fischer and other mayors at the daylong conference in the Big Apple.
National Action Network founder Rev. Al Sharpton, National Urban League President Marc Morial, and U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., President Ronald Busby also attended the meeting.
“The purpose of the meeting was to develop a national agenda and strategy to improve the quality of life of people in U.S. cities represented by the United States Conference of Mayors and to find unity on national issues of mutual concern by all of the attendees,” Chavis said.
In a joint statement issued by the National Urban League and U.S. Conference of Mayors, the groups said they believe in the power of their collective voices to address the inequities that now exist in America.
“Today, too many American families are unable to reach their full potential and are losing faith, because of the divisive political climate and the inability of the federal government to advance smart policy solutions…leadership at the local level is more important than ever before,” the groups said in the statement.
Together, the parties vowed to come together to chart the course for the country’s future and ensure prosperity for all Americans.
The meeting counted as the beginning of a very powerful relationship between America’s mayors and the civil rights community, de Blasio said.
De Blasio continued: “We are ready to work in common cause to address the issues and the reality is that we understand that we have to speak with one voice if we are going to have an impact, especially with what’s going on nationally.”
The New York City mayor noted that one of the immediate issues the group will tackle is the 2020 Census, which he said is of utmost importance.
“You think something as innocuous as the Census can do little harm,” de Blasio said. “But, it’s the kind of thing that often gets overlooked and major decisions are made about power and money and the difference can be billions of dollars.”
The group will push the Trump Administration on ensuring an accurate Census count, de Blasio and Morial both promised.
“This was a historic gathering to bring leaders together to confront the challenges that we face, as a nation, and to look for shared solutions,” Morial said.
The tax plan passed by the House paving the way for an unprecedented tax code reform is as troublesome as it is damaging to working, middle-class, and poor Americans, he said.
“The tax plan is lopsided,” Morial said. “We will resist and work for a better plan. Also, we will not shirk our responsibility and, as far as the 2020 Census, I want to join Mayor de Blasio in saying that we want to ensure that the 2020 Census is accurate.”
Further, bigotry and hate and racially motivated violence has to be stopped, Morial said.
“Bigotry, hate and racially motivated violence is un-American and unacceptable for our nation,” said Morial. “We want to build for our community and we have committed to reconvene this conference in January and bring the mayors and civil rights leaders back together to further our conversation and to work on more specific policies and agendas.”
The NNPA was pleased to have been present and to participate in the historic gathering, Chavis said, as he thanked de Blasio, Morial, and Landrieu for gathering some of the nation’s leading mayors and civil rights leaders.
“The meeting was very substantive and productive,” Chavis said. “We addressed the vital issues facing America’s cities and we all committed to establishing an ongoing strategic alliance to work cooperatively together to provide inclusive solutions to ensure freedom, justice, equality and equity for all people who live throughout the United States.”
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