Last week I had the pleasure of attending the 44thAnnual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus. This was my third consecutive year attending the conference and each year has surpassed the previous. The first time I attended I was invited to be a part of a panel convened by Representative Hank Johnson entitled Beyond the Digital Divide. I had a great time and share the stage with some great minds to include Hank Schocklee of Public Enemy fame. Last year I was invited to participate in Bloggers Row. I wrote about last year's experience as well and you can check out that post here. That gig came with a press pass and I was asked the chronicle my observations. It was big fun and I was able to connect with bloggers Norm Bond and Faye Anderson. This year was my first time simply attending without having to prepare to speak or write and I found myself being able to relax and simply enjoy the festivities and I did just that.
I had a had a great time at the event not only meeting and mingling with leaders and celebrities such as George Wallace, Martin Luther King III, Roland Martin and Jessie Jackson but I also enjoyed some of what The District has to offer from Ben’s Chili Bowl to the Frederick Douglass Museum. It was a great three days and I am already eagerly anticipating attending the 45th event where I am hoping to participate in The Authors Pavillon. As a matter of fact I have already reached out to Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson about being included on her Science and Technology BRAINTRUST for next year!
· I attended several sessions on STEM. These discussions have stalled. They are problem-focused. We are aware of the issues it is time to move to solutions.
· Several other sessions that were not STEM focused were discussing real solutions. In the fatherhood session hosted by Omega Psi Phi fraternity the conversation got down to the real issues and challenged churches and other cultural mainstays to step up their games as well as acknowledged that there needs to be a strategy to mediate the media (no pun intended).
· Networking at this event may be best that I have ever experienced. One of the reasons for this is that this conference is not targeted to one group. Everyone is here. One minute I could be having a tech conversation with Wayne Sutton (I ran into Wayne in the hallway) and the next minute I am mingling with folks whose passion is health and family. The intersection of these varied interests and people is quite powerful.
· No more Powerpoint. Someone on the advisory board should make PowerPoint illegal in these sessions. Some of the sessions were brutal as panel participant after participant walked up to the podium and double-clicked on their slide deck icon. Stop.
· Last year I rocked my black patent leather Creative Recreation kicks with my black and grey suits. It was a great call. I looked good and I was able to handle all of the walking. This year I figured since we were so close to the hotel I would go back to rocking the Mezlans. Big Mistake! At least bring or pack a pair or sneakers that work well with suits so if you have to make the switch you will be prepared.