On September 11, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) kicked off its 49th Annual Legislative Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The event is the leading conference focused on social, economic and political issues related to African Americans and the Black diaspora.

This year's theme was "400 Years: Our Legacy, Our Possibilities," a commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in Point Comfort, Virginia. The five-day conference drew thousands of attendees, who participated in nearly 100 sessions on topics, like business and economic development, community and civic engagement, health and wellness, education and foreign affairs.

In a recent interview with The Washington Informer, newly appointed President and CEO of the CBCF David A. Hinson acknowledged the importance of this year’s conference in terms of changing the current narratives about Black people in America and challenging the nation to think differently about slavery.

"This year is very interesting because our theme for this year, ‘400 Years: Our Legacy, Our Possibilities,’ allows us to see the fact that African Americans have changed this nation from the time the first 20 people of African descent landed in this country,” Hinson said.

While the conference's theme paid tribute to the history of Black people in America, many of the sessions focused on the present and future. The NAACP hosted a national town hall panel discussion on voting rights, the 2020 Census and Black women's leadership. The event, hosted by CNN political commentator Angela Rye, included the four freshman congresswomen known as The Squad: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).  A second special town hall meeting was held on the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys, and there were panels on Black migration, gun violence, technology and the school-to-prison pipeline. On Saturday, the CBCF honored individuals who have made a significant contribution to society, as well as members of the Congressional Black Caucus, at the Phoenix Awards Dinner. This year’s honorees included Rep. Barbara Lee of California, the Rev. Al Sharpton, filmmaker Ava DuVernay and the Exonerated Five. Singer-songwriter Maxwell was moved to tears as he accepted his Lifetime Achievement Award in the Fine Arts. Also in attendance at the Phoenix Awards Dinner were 2020 presidential candidates Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA). And everyone's favorite auntie Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) was spotted showing off her dance skills. 

Missed the action? You can catch up on all the events on social media using the hashtag #CBCFALC19.