CHICAGO – Determined to build a movement to protect the gains of the Civil Rights Movement from states’ rights forces in motion throughout the country, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition is set to host its national conference in Chicago, July 11-14, at the Chicago Hilton and Towers Hotel, 720 S. Michigan Avenue.
Hosted by Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., the 41st annual conference of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund, titled ”A More Perfect Union: Closing the Gap and Expanding the Tent”, will once again bring influential thought leaders together in a an innovative exchange of ideas. This year’s conference will focus in-depth on the challenges facing the shrinking middle class and expanding poor while cultivating real solutions for economic recovery, leading up to the 2012 presidential election. The Rainbow PUSH Coalition continues to declare the movements for social justice, women’s rights, workers’ rights, and civil rights legitimate, necessary and worth preserving.
“Urban cities around the country are in a state of emergency,” said Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. “There is an exceedingly high level of black unemployment, poverty and pain. The pattern of school suspensions for children of color and lack of access to job training and skilled trade training ultimately results in a disproportionate number of blacks who are unsocialized and locked out of the zones of reconstruction. Black males in New York, Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee all face 50 percent or more unemployment, but it has become an accepted norm. During our conference we are calling for a comprehensive urban policy agenda that drives reconstruction.”
The conference kicks off Tuesday July 10, with an evening session focusing on alternative banking. Reduced access to credit and other financial services has fallen disproportionately on minority groups. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) recently reported that almost 54 percent of Black households and 43 percent of Hispanic households were either unbanked or under-banked. This session will bring government, industry and community leaders together to address the growing demand of alternative financial service products by low- and moderate-income families, and discuss the social benefits and wealth building activities attributed to credit.
Wednesday, July 11, renowned actor and humanitarian Danny Glover will participate in an international plenary session celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the African National Congress. The movement waged one of the great liberation battles of the 20th century, galvanizing an armed campaign to overthrow the apartheid government and gain civil rights for the black majority.
Renowned financial business leaders John R. Rogers, chairman and CEO of Ariel Investments and Diane Swonk, chief economist for Mesirow Financial Services, will also co-moderate a Wednesday afternoon CFO roundtable.
A number of panels and workshops will be offered over the four days to address a gamut of social problems in the U.S. and abroad. For example, the convention will feature a panel on “state legislation, voting rights, women’s rights and workers rights” on Thursday, July 12, seeking to explore how to move past the cynical partisanship getting in the way of putting Americans back to work. Another session will delve into how small business owners can boost their sales using Facebook. Facebook team members will provide a hands-on training session about the site’s platform and a more advanced tutorial on business strategies.
Corporate leaders, hoping to capitalize on the nearly trillion dollars of Black buying power in the U.S., will participate in a number of sessions on diversity, minority supplier and franchise opportunities, and African American consumers.
PUSH for Excellence will host a session, Friday, July 13, to present global models for school reform that are applicable in both rural and urban settings. The session will provide registrants with highlights from programs and initiatives in the field of education that present promising possibilities for creating change.
The issue of church and financial literacy will be thoroughly discussed during the 1,000 Churches Connected Ministers’ Luncheon, July 12. Rev. Jackson has worked with pastors around the country to lead the crusade for economic healing through faith, strategic planning and collective approaches.
Convention festivities also include a youth and hip hop forum and Friday evening Judge Greg Mathis, chairmen of PUSH Excel will help distribute some $250,000 in college scholarships to college bound youth.
Conference highlights include:
• Wednesday, July 11: Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick will keynote the afternoon business luncheon that will focus on the vitality and viability of small businesses. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, along with his Excellency Dr. Kweli Mkhize of the Republic of South Africa will also bring remarks during the event. Following lunch, Goldman Sachs Managing Director, Bruce Heyman, will lead the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative which has joined with community colleges, Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) loan funds and an array of local partners in Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Long Beach and New York to provide small businesses with greater access to business management education, support services, networking opportunities, and capital.
• Thursday, July 12: Dr. Bill Winston, pastor of Living Word Christian Center, will keynote the afternoon ministers’ luncheon. That evening NASCAR’s first and only African-American female racecar driver, Tia Norfleet, will headline the athletic banquet. Other honorees include NBA legend, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe.
• Friday, July 13: The day will focus on health, women’s issues and education issues. Dr. Julianne Malveaux will moderate a “Women of Power Roundtable” discussion. Other dynamic women participating in the session will be Cheryl Pearson McNeil, vice-president of public affairs and government relations at The Nielsen Company.
• Saturday, July 14: The summit will conclude with the live international broadcast of Saturday Morning Forum. The special two-hour program will address the issue of escalating violence in urban communities across the country. Each year, approximately 7,000 African Americans are murdered, more than nine times out of 10 by other African Americans. Along with Rev. Jackson, Dr. Charles Ogletree, director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School and the youthful and dynamic Dr. Marc Lamont Hill will help present an agenda to stem the flow of drugs and guns into minority communities while jobs and job training flow out.
To register for “A More Perfect Union: Closing the Gap and Expanding the Tent” or for more information visit the Rainbow PUSH Coalition website at www.rainbowpush.org or call (773) 256-2700.