Fellow Panelists Included the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. and Civil Rights

Legends Dr Dorothy Height and Reverend Joseph Lowery

(Washington, D.C.) –Operation HOPE’s Founder and CEO John Bryant joined a prestigious civil rights panel, including the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr., Dr. Dorothy Height and the Reverend Joseph Lowery, and called for the eradication of poverty through a series of proposed national “silver rights” initiatives; including homeownership wealth as a silver right, business wealth as a silver right, health and wellness as a silver right, and financial literacy as the first silver right, at the National Urban League’s 95th Annual Conference, Friday at the new Washington Convention Center.

Bryant, the founder and visionary messenger behind Operation HOPE, a leading national self-help financial literacy, economic education and economic empowerment organization said today, “this NUL President and my colleague and friend, Marc Morial, called for an “Opportunity Compact” in his opening keynote address to the more than 15,000 conference attendees. A new "Opportunity Compact" for America to increase jobs, develop stronger private sector commitment to minority businesses, enact mandatory early childhood education and proposed the creation of tax free "Individual Homeownership Development Account" to spur homeownership among working Americans.” Bryant continued, “This vision for America’s low-wealth, urban, minority and under-served communities is in perfect compliment with our call for a new “Silver Rights” Movement in America. Increasingly, leading edge community based organizations and progressive faith-based organizations are all talking about and moving on the final piece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s unfinished work – the economic and poverty agenda in America. Dr. King was focused on battling the three evils of war, racism and poverty. Working together I am convinced we can do something to eradicate poverty as we know it, in our lifetime. I and we at Operation HOPE look forward to working together with Marc Morial at the NUL, and others, in this new movement towards real and sustainable freedom.”

The Civil Rights and Civic Engagement Panel: A Call to Action focused its substantive discussion on what each individual leader believed should be the direction and/or focus of African-American organizations and leadership heading toward the year 2020. According to the census data, by the year 2020, one third of the country will be persons of color. The panel began a vitally important dialogue to devise social, economic and political strategies to strengthen the voice of a more diverse culture.  Bryant said of the prominent panel, “Joe Leonard, executive director of the Black Leadership Forum, deserves a great deal of credit for having the vision to pull this incredible important panel group together. I like Joe Leonard, because he is not just Ph.D focused, but Ph.Do focused too.” The panel was jointly hosted by the National Urban League and the Black Leadership Forum.

Panelists included Lezli Baskerville, Esq., President & Chief Executive Officer, National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO); Melanie L. Campbell, Executive Director, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation; Theodore M. Shaw, Esq., Director-Counsel & President, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF); Kim Keenan, Esq., President, National Bar Association, and Senior Trial Attorney, Jack Olender & Associates; The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, Co-founder & President Emeritus, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Chairman Emeritus Black Leadership Forum, Inc., and Convener, Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda (GCPA); and Reg Weaver, President, National Education Association (NEA). Joe Leonard, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of Black Leadership Forum, Inc., led the discussion.

Bryant’s invitation to participate on panel stems from the HOPE’s Silver Rights launch on April 12 at its Day of HOPE event with HOPE spokesman Ambassador Andrew Young, Dr. Dorothy Height, Reverend Joseph Lowery and others in Atlanta. He will focus on the success of the organization’s HOPE Centers, particularly the one recently built to serve the greater Washington, D.C.-Anacostia area, and the Banking on Our Future and HOPE Coalition initiatives, and HOPE’s growing  Silver Rights Movement. While economic parity is a common theme through many of the organizations attending the conference, Operation HOPE is distinguished because the elimination of poverty and the empowerment of the underserved community is its sole objective.

About Operation HOPE, Inc.

Operation HOPE, Inc. (OHI), is America’s first nonprofit social investment bank and a national provider of financial literacy and economic empowerment programs. Through ongoing collaborations and long-term partnerships with leading government, private sector, and community interests, OHI works to bring self-sufficiency and a sustained spirit of revitalization to America’s inner-city communities. OHI’s HOPE Centers, a growing network of inner-city banking centers, have created more than 800 new homeowners and small business owners, more than $125 million in funded loans, and more than $210 million in commitments for homeownership and small business loans from their 250 bank and corporate partners. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and a network of private and community partners, OHI’s HOPE Coalition America has provided free financial counseling and casework services to Americans affected by natural disasters and national emergencies in 125 cities in 35 states to date. Taken together, these programs make Operation HOPE the national leader in economic empowerment tools and services for the under-served in America. OHI and its programs can be found online at www.operationhope.org, www.bankingonourfuture.org , and www.hopecoalitionamerica.org.

National Urban League

National Urban League (www.nul.org) Established in 1910, The Urban League is the nation’s oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to empowering African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream. Today, the National Urban League, headquartered in New York City, spearheads the non-partisan efforts of its local affiliates. There are over 100 local affiliates of the National Urban League located in 35 states and the District of Columbia providing direct services to more than 2 million people nationwide through programs, advocacy and research.

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