By James Wright, Special to the AFRO, [email protected]

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference will make history when it convenes next month because for the first time in its history, the event will be co-chaired by two U.S. senators.

Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) will be the honorary leaders of the event. The conference takes place Sept. 12-16 in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Cory Booker will co-chair the CBCF’s Annual Legislative Conference with Sen. Kamala Harris. (Courtesy Photo)

“The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference is among the important annual gatherings of Black Americans, and I am honored to lead its 48th convening with Senator Harris,” Booker said in a statement to the AFRO. “The Conference theme, ‘The Dream Still Demands,’ presents an important opportunity for our community to lead the national dialogue on so many pressing issues, from fixing our broken criminal justice system to creating economic opportunities for communities of color. We have so many urgent challenges that must be addressed, and I’m looking forward to hearing from all of the incredible leaders who will be participating in the conference this September.”

Harris added, “The Annual Legislative Conference, over nearly five decades, has brought together some of the country’s greatest leaders, innovators, and job creators to address the most pressing issues facing Black America. This year is no exception. The conference will provide a platform to advocate for the voiceless, the vulnerable, and all who believe in fulfilling the American promise of equality and justice for all.”

Historically, co-chairs of the event have been members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Booker and Harris are two of the three Black members of the U.S. Senate and both are Democrats and members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) is the lone Black Republican and is not a CBC member.

The conference attracts nearly 10,000 people from all over the world and offers more than 90 forums on public policy issues affecting Black Americans. Popular events include the town hall meeting, the prayer breakfast and the annual dinner that has been attended by every Democratic U.S. president since the CBCF’s founding in 1976 as well as prominent entertainers and politicians.

Most of the event’s activities take place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in downtown Washington, D.C. There are hundreds of private parties sponsored by political, fraternal, social, and professional organizations in the District of Columbia as a result of the conference.

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s board of directors. Lee said this year’s conference is taking place at a critical time.

“For more than 40 years, the Annual Legislative Conference has provided an extraordinary platform for people – domestic and abroad – to come together and discuss vital issues related to social justice, leadership, economic prosperity, entrepreneurship and much more,” Lee said.

Shuanise Washington is the president and CEO of the CBCF. Washington said the conference will take place “in a critical time where, now more than ever, diverse voices are imperative to the future of this nation.”

“We must rise to meet the demands of the moment and capitalize on actionable outcomes that will advance Black Americans and this country forward,” she said.