14 Jan Empowerment Congress Celebrates Its 20th Year
Just returned from the 20th annual Empowerment Congress, where I enjoyed an inspiring speech by the Rev. Al Sharpton and an informative workshop by California Forward entitled: “The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Realignment and Its Impact on Communities.”
My favorite quote from Rev. Sharpton, as he talked about the importance of the upcoming presidential election and its impact on healthcare, Medicare and Social Security: “This election ain’t about Obama, it’s about yo Mama!”
He reminded us how hard it was for African Americans to finally get the right to vote, and spoke passionately about the more recent challenges we all face with the new restrictive voting laws being put in place all over the country.
During the workshop, Kathay Feng, Executive Director of California Common Cause introduced an idea that would help get better voter participation: same-day-registration. It’s simple, it works in other states, and it could drastically improve voter turnout in California, where we get 25% participation if we’re lucky.
2012 is a year of change. Much of this change is painful, as we lack the resources we have come to depend upon, but some of this change is salutary: giving us the opportunity to re-evaluate our programs and maximize their effectiveness both in terms of their results and their costs. I encourage you to look into the governmental reforms proposed by California Forward, they’re definitely worth consideration.
Culver City was well represented at the Empowerment Congress. I ran into Bill Wynn, newly-elected president of the Culver City Democratic Club and member of the Martin Luther King Junior Celebration Committee (remember to attend the free celebration tomorrow!), Donna Stein Associate Director of Culver City’s Wende Museum who was a member on the “Empowerment of Art” panel, and Councilmember Andrew Weissman.
Above all, today was about empowerment: getting citizens involved in their communities and in their government. That is a great message to ring in the new year.