The Black Public Relations Society (BPRS) held a political panel that addressed the role of Blacks in America.


The “Why We Still Matter in America” event, held Oct. 20 at the Thurgood Marshall Center in Northwest D.C., addressed politics and its role in individual rights, race, gender, and policy in America. “We are not going to be a quiet chapter anymore,” Barbara Holt Streeter, the moderator for the event, told the AFRO. “We intend on making a lot of noise. This panel is a part of that noise.”

Panelists included Kiara Pesante, Democratic strategist; Dana Thompson, principal for the Podesta Group; David Street, national director of Faith and African American Engagement for Enroll America; Ralph Chittams, senior vice chairman of D.C.’s Grand Old Party; the Rev. Dr. E. Gail Anderson Holness, president of D.C. Democratic Women’s Club; and Kimberly Peller Allen, co-founder of Higher Heights. The panelists shared their political views and drove the conversation toward a central theme: the responsibility of Black Americans to be loud in politics.

“To be speaking at a panel entitled ‘Why We Still Matter in America’ means I get the chance to teach another life, and make someone think,” Pesante told the AFRO. “We have to re-learn that for Black people to influence and engage and vote is important.”

A spirited debate occurred between a liberal audience member and Chittams, a Black Republican, as they discussed whether or not Hillary Clinton was right in calling Republicans “the deplorables.”

Passion was evident as attendees expressed their frustrations with the way the current election cycle is going, as well as the lack of Black voices and nonexistence of Black issues in this election.

“Black people need to be more involved in politics,” Holt Steeter said. “We have to start at the grass root level. We have to start in the communities, start a neighborhood council, and move up from local to city, to state, to federal . . . We have to see the importance of representing ourselves.”

View a video of the event at