By Brianna McAdoo, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]
Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network brought the action to the Hill with the Legislative & Policy Conference held November 13 and 14. Over a hundred activists from around the country convened for the conference where politicians discussed the midterm elections, issues plaguing America and a way forward.
The National Action Network is a nationwide civil rights organization founded by the Reverend Al Sharpton in 1991. NAN has committed themselves to, “the fight for one standard of justice, decency and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, citizenship, criminal record, economic status, gender, gender expression or sexuality,” according to the website.
The conference was loaded with Democratic politicians that were vocal about their commitment to make urgent changes in policy in order to positively influence the direction of the country. They focused on issues such as immigration reform, affordable healthcare, election reform, environmental justice, prison reform and an array of issues involving social justice and achieving equality in America.
When speaking on the urgency for health care reform, Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) said, “If you need medicine to keep you alive, you should be able to get it, you should be able to take it, you should be able to afford it.”
Throughout the program, many of the speakers echoed similar sentiments about the need for affordable healthcare. As Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders firmly stated, “It is a right not a privilege.”
The fight for justice that the National Action Network has committed themselves to for the past 27 years permeated through the speakers words. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) said, “We will fight for the causes that have always mattered most to us- .justice, fairness and equity.”
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) captured the audience with his championing of social justice issues in America.
“We are dissatisfied because we live in a country right now where kids can find unleaded gasoline either than unleaded water. We are dissatisfied because we have a nation that treats you better, if you are rich and guilty than poor and innocent. We are dissatisfied because we live in a nation right now that pays teacher so little that they have to get extra jobs, just to make ends meet,” Booker told the crowd.
Booker became the first African-American Senator of New Jersey in 2013. He previously served as the Mayor of Newark from 2006 to 2013.
The New Jersey senator continued to talk about the fight to make America a more equitable and safe place for all its citizens.“We are dissatisfied because we’re not even doing the common sense things to make our community safer…We are dissatisfied because we have a nation right now where young brothers like Jemel Roberson, a security officer that subdued an assailant, was shot and killed like how many other of our young men and women,” he said.
“We’re dissatisfied because there are millions of Americans that are Black and White and Latino that work full time everyday but are still below the poverty line.”
Instead of focusing on disagreements in politics, particularly with President Donald Trump, Booker emphasized to the audience the importance of focusing on addressing social justice issues.