Honors legacy of founder – Jackson, introduces new CEO – Haynes

By Texas Metro News

Engaging discussions about political and criminal justice reform kicked off the 24th Annual Creating Opportunity Conference in Atlanta on Thursday, October 19, 2023.

The two-day conference, Honoring the Legacy & Pivot, focuses on “preserving the legacy through the introduction of the new Rainbow PUSH Coalition President/CEO Dr. Frederick D. Haynes, III,” while in the spirit of founder Rev. Jesse L. Jackson’s life works, called for action from participants.

As Haynes opened the conference, the first since the announcement of the leadership change, this summer, he prayed for Rev. Jackson and praised his mentor, whose shoulders he stands on.

Haynes touted Jackson’s record of providing visionary leadership and advocacy.

Haynes, who was hand-picked by Jackson hails from San Francisco, CA. The graduate of Bishop College is Senior Pastor of one of the most progressive churches, Friendship-West Baptist Church, in Dallas, TX.

Day 1 featured  speakers included: Atty. Barbara Arnwine, founder and president of the Transformative Justice Coalition; Latosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter; Judge Terrinee L. Gundy, Municipal Court of Atlanta – DUI Division; Atty. Tricia “CK” Hoffler, CEO of the CK Hoffler Firm and Chair of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-88th District); Atty. Keith Lamar Jr, Law Office of Keith Lamar Jr.; and Solicitor General Keith Gammage, Fulton County Judicial Circuit.

In impassioned presentations, speakers identified key issues, discussed the gaps and offered solutions for moving forward an agenda that will only come with reform, which will be the result of advocacy.

No one got a pass when it came to addressing the issues ranging from voter suppression, prison reform, economic influence, paid-off preachers, and more.

Rev. Haynes said, “Sometimes you have to feel the heat to see the light…. If we don’t have communal wealth, we don’t have political power.”

There was a common theme of organizing and collaborating, emphasized by speakers. 

Atty. Arnwine, who stressed the importance of acknowledging and encouraging the use of Black power.

“You don’t have to be a millionaire to have economic influence,” she said. “You’ve got to tell Black folks that they have power — use whatever money you have… but still think about how you are going to use it.”

Citing then-Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign where the small dollar donations made the difference, Arnwine applauded a contributor who donated all she had, “10 dollars and some change.”

As Ms. Brown recounted that story of the woman who said it was all the money she had as she scraped together change in her car, she pointed out that it was important to have a stronger, positive message.

Arnwine agreed, adding, “We’ve got to do everything we can to tell people they matter. We  must tell them that they are powerful, their vote is amazing, their one vote is so powerful.  Teach our people the things they can do with the power in their hands.  Tell them they are wonderful.”

Panelists referenced hearing that the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), under the leadership of President Dr. Ben Chavis and Chair Bobby R. Henry, Sr., would be focusing on those and other issues as they encouraged attendees to use the Black Press, the Black-owned media which is deserving of support.

Haynes, who encouraged working with NNPA, is also expected to begin a regular column which will be disseminated to its more than 200 Black-owned media outlets.

Friday will be a full day also beginning with an Executive Breakfast at Friendship Baptist Church, focusing on The Cost of Business – Inflation’s impact and the Role of Finance, followed by “Promoting Inclusive Economic Growth- Africa and the Diaspora.”  The Ministers Luncheon, featuring a panel of clergy members will focus on engaging, educating and empowering the masses.

The evening culminates with the Legacy Celebration honoring Rev. Jackson and introducing Dr. Haynes; with special guest Media pioneer Xernona Clayton.

Jackson founded Operation PUSH (People United to Save —later Serve— Humanity) in 1971 and the National Rainbow Coalition in 1984. The two non profit organizations were merged in 1996. The organization is headquartered in Chicago, Ill.