Joe Blakk is a rapper, small businessman, and longtime community activist in New Orleans. He is also a community organizer with the organization VOTE: Voice of the Ex-Offender. Last month, VOTE staffers Norris Henderson, Joe Blakk and Rosana Cruz traveled to Washington DC to attend the Congressional Black Caucus’ Annual Legislative Conference. Below are Joe Blakk’s reflections on the trip.
The Congressional Black Caucus Convention was an event made up of four days of information and sharing, addressing the state of African Americans in America. This years theme was Reinvest, Rebuild and Renew, where we focused on solutions, as opposed to only talking about our problems. The seminars were mind blowing with the biggest issue being trying to decide on which seminar to attend.
The more seminars you attend, and the more you talk and listen to others, you begin to understand that the struggles in the black community are universal, whether it is gentrification, the cradle to prison pipeline, or gerrymandering. You also begin to realize that the 13th Amendment wasn’t the end of the line for slavery; it was only a stop we had to make to transfer to a bus that made less noise.
This was my third time attending the Congressional Convention and they are always empowering and motivating. It’s not every day you get a chance to be hands on with congressmen and other powerful and influential black people in our country. I wish there were a way we could bring more of the people from our community next year to experience this. I always leave more empowered and energized. It was a mind blowing experience. In the Post-Obama America, nothing will be handed to us. We can no longer wait on the bus; we must be that bus.