They came from all over the United States – from relatively new and bold cities of diversity and vision such as Los Angeles, from history rich cities with a lot to say and share such as Chicago, to the financial center of the United States, New York City, to the inter-connected states of Virginia, Maryland and from throughout the District of Columbia.
They came 600 delegates strong, from government (on a bi-partisan basis), community (local and national) and the private-sector (including several CEOs).
They came to greater Anacostia and the now historic Anacostia Economic Summit because they care about our collective humanity in general and the people of Anacostia in particular.
They came black and white, rich and poor, conservative and liberal, Republican and Democrat, Jews and Gentiles, old and young, and from both near and far. There were CEOs of multi-billion dollar companies sitting right next to the President of the local block club, and they all carried the same badge of summit prestige – that of a Delegate.
They came, quoting Ambassador Andrew Young in his introduction of World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz at the summit, saying “(that during the Civil Rights Movement) we were on the left with radical methods of social change, Marion (Barry), and he is on the right also with radical methods of social change. And so we come together at Operation HOPE because the one thing that people on the left and the right can agree on is that poverty is bad for humanity, that capitalism in order to survive needs to grow and thrive, it needs more investors, it needs more customers, it needs more infrastructure. The success of my time as Mayor in Atlanta was when I realized that the business community and me as the Mayor needed and wanted the same thing. They wanted profits, and I wanted jobs. Well, there can't be any jobs if there are no profits, and there can't be any profits if there are no jobs growing. And so while we are divided by language, while we are divided by reputation, I think John Hope Bryant has created a new kind of brotherhood. He calls it the Get It Done Party, and whether we're left or right, whatever our methodology, whatever our principles, we are lovers of humanity, we're believers in peace and democracy, and we want to make the world a better place as rapidly as possible. So I want to present to you my brother Paul Wolfowitz of the World Bank.” And I love the most that last part. “Presenting to you my brother Paul Wolfowitz…”
They came in historic firsts – the first time ever that a Federal Reserve Chairman gave a policy speech East of the River or any other inner city community in America. Thank you Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The first time ever that a World Bank President gave a policy speech East of the River or any other inner city community in America. Thank you World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz. The first time ever for this U.S. Comptroller of the Currency, and his first speech on the importance of upholding CRA (federal Community Reinvestment Act). Thank you Comptroller John C. Dugan.
They came as VIPs from the public and private sector – individual leaders that “showed up” in Anacostia from Ambassador Andrew Young and Dr. Dorothy Height, to Arlen Gelbard, president of E Trade Bank and chief administrative officer of E Trade Financial, to U.S. Treasurer Anna Cabral, SBA Administrator Hector Barreto, SEC Commissioner Paul Atkins, to HUD Deputy Secretary Roy Bernardi, to Economic Development Administration Assistant Secretary Sandy Baruah, Bernie Dan, president and chief executive officer of Chicago Board of Trade, Tommy Dortch, chairman-emeritus, 100 Black Men of America, Kevin Payne, president and executive officer of DC United, Rhonda Mims, president of the ING Foundation, Irving Miller, senior vice president of Toyota USA Motor Sales, our esteemed moderator for the day Kelvin Boston of PBS’ MoneyWise television show, and of course former mayor and current Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry and my distinguished co-host and the Mayor of Washington, D.C. the Honorable Anthony Williams, amongst others.
They came as heroes and she-roes working in the vineyard of the local Anacostia community, well before Operation HOPE was there. Community leaders that passionately care about their community and “vote with their feet” and their professional career day-in and day-out by continuing to “show up;” from Adrian Washington, president and chief executive officer of Anacostia Waterfront Corporation, Glen O’Gilvie, president and chief executive officer of Earth Conservation Corps, Dr. Charlene Drew Jarvis, president of Southeastern University, to Anthony Freeman, president and chief executive officer of National Capital Revitalization Corporation and Ms. Maudine Cooper, chief executive officer of the Washington, D.C. Urban League, amongst others.
They came from communities around the nation, and in the form of “new leaders” of and for the 21st century, such as Reverend Mark Whitlock, pastor of Christ Our Redeemer AME Church and chief executive officer of Nehemiah Ministries, Blair Taylor, the president and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Urban League, Paul Brathwaite, policy director and executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, Inc., Dr. Joe Leonard, executive director of the Black Leadership Forum and Desiree Sayle, deputy assistant to the President and director, USA Freedom Corps at the White House.
They came from the local, national and international media, prepared to tell a new story about the hope, opportunity and potential that is possible in Anacostia and all the other Anacostia-like communities throughout America; from National Public Radio, to the Washington Post, May 3rd and May 8th editions respectively, from the Washington Times, and the DC Examiner, from Roll Call on Capitol Hill, from District of Columbia TV, to Kids zone web casting live, to channel 8 and the major television networks, to Reuters and Associated Press, to literally hundreds of Blogs, Internet websites and web portals, translating the historic events of May 3rd into several different languages and broadcasting a new message of hope and empowerment worldwide. We were also honored to have Alfred Edmond, Jr., editor in chief of Black Enterprise Magazine, to actually speak at the summit on “silver rights” and asset and wealth building.”
And so they came, and they came, and they came; but now we must model the best of what we shared on May 3rd, 2006, and then we must act.
We must act with a “silver rights” campaign for low-wealt h homeownership and minority small business and entrepreneurship, like we do through our HOPE Centers at Operation HOPE. Like we do at our HOPE Center on Good Hope Road, sponsored by E Trade Financial and serving the greater Anacostia community today.
We must act with a “silver rights” campaign for jobs and opportunity, like we do through our national network of HOPE Inner City Cyber Cafes. Like we do right there at the Cyber Café on Good Hope Road.
We must act with a powerful “silver rights” campaign for education and financial literacy, because education is the ultimate poverty eradication tool. When you know better, you tend to do better. Just like we do nationally with Banking on Our Future, and just like we are doing every day of the year throughout the tri-state.
We must act with a powerful “silver rights” campaign for faith and dignity area, working in close cooperation with the ecumenical and non-profit and educational community, because “there is a difference between being broke and being poor. Being broke is an economic condition but being poor is a disabling frame of mind and a depressed condition of our spirit, and we must vow to never, ever, ever be poor again.”
We must do this and much more, because in many ways the decisions we make today will determine the kind and quality of America we live in tomorrow. It is all in our hands. Yes, we are all in this together. We all inhabit and share this small planet – together -- and it is up to each of us to make it work. No one is going to save us but us, and “the saving” is within our grasp.
That “over the past 40 some-odd years we have become experts in what we are against, but in the next 40 years we must all become experts in what we are for.” Something much harder to do, and to accomplish, but so much more rewarding personally, and useful to society overall.
The delegates of the now historic gathering of leaders and concerned citizens called the Anacostia Economic Summit came because they wanted to be a part of a solution; and because we all know what the major problems and challenges are.
They came because the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement is not done yet. They came to help keep America’s promise, and Dr. King’s dream – freedom and prosperity for all who truly want it, and are willing to work hard to achieve it. So simple a goal yet so elusive in its achievement.
Well, the Anacostia Economic Summit truly represents the start of something new in America, and that “something new” will not be limited to Anacostia, although in many ways it was started there. It is a call for a new movement in America, from civil rights to “silver rights”. A movement not waged and won in the streets, as was civil rights, but one that will be waged and won in the suites, as will be the “silver rights” movement.
To join the Anacostia Economic Summit Committee and the ““silver rights”” campaign in Anacostia all you have to do is to “show up,” and click here.
Onward, with HOPE