Washington, D.C—Democratic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama spoke on economic and racial injustice as he received the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Phoenix award at the 38th Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) dinner on Sept. 27 in Washington, D.C.
Senator Barack Obama received the honor, just one night after the first presidential debate with John McCain. According to the CNN Opinion Corp. Survey, 51 percent of viewers polled said that Barack Obama did a better job in the debate, compared to 38 percent who said that John McCain did a better job.
Senator Obama kept in step with his presidential campaign in a speech addressing the economic concerns of the middle class: declining incomes, job loss, and the housing crisis. “Black and brown families are twice as likely to face foreclosure from sub-prime loans,” said Obama.
Senator Obama evoked the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Dr. King once said that economic justice is the inseparable twin to racial justice. It makes no difference if you can sit at the lunch counter if you can’t afford the lunch. It makes no difference if a neighborhood is integrated if you can’t afford to buy a home there, or send your child to school there. Dr. King understood that so long as economic justice is denied his dream would be deferred.”
Senator Obama recapped the previous night’s presidential debate. “Through ninety minutes of debate, John McCain had a lot to say about me, but he had nothing to say about you. He didn’t talk about working families. All of us have a stake in making sure that the financial system is safe from collapse because our economic security is at risk.”
Senator Obama was honored for his contributions to African American political awareness, empowerment, and the advancement of minorities in the electoral process. The other recipients of the 2008 Phoenix award include: Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, New York Governor David A. Paterson, California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, Actress and Humanitarian Kerry Washington, Co- founder of Focus: HOPE in Detroit, Eleanor M. Josaitis.
The Phoenix Award recognizes those who through their efforts and accomplishments have made significant contributions to society, and it symbolizes the immortality of the human spirit and an eternal desire to reach its full potential, according to Elsie L. Scott, PhD., the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) president and chief executive officer, in a news release.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, comprised of 42 members of congress, gathered with federal and state elected officials, celebrities, and industry leaders including Rev. Jesse Jackson, Actress Kym Whitley, Radio host Tom Joyner, and Amorosa from the “Apprentice”, for the red carpet awards dinner event, a culmination to the 2008 CBCF Annual Legislative Conference.
The conference is the Congressional Black Caucus premier fundraiser, a four day event that offers policy forums, general sessions, exhibits, book signings, and networking opportunities.
The award dinner was co-hosted by Actress Holly Robinson Peete and her husband retired NFL quarterback Rodney Peete, and included performances by Grammy Award winning performer, Patti LaBelle and vocalist Marilyn Ashford-Brown.
The ALC Conference theme was “Embracing the Promise, Realizing the Vision.”