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Press Release
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By Sholnn Freeman
202.238.2631/2509
sholnn.freeman@howard.edu
     
http://www.howard.edu/newsroom/      
Howard Inauguration Panelists Discuss Black Political Issues

WASHINGTON (January 22, 2013) – African Americans who carry immense pride in the 2013 Inauguration of Barack Obama were urged also to hold a renewed sense of mission to address the nation’s problems in the coming years. The comments were made during a panel discussion about the Obama presidency held at Howard University on Friday.

The panel discussion, titled, “Looking Back, Looking Ahead: The Legacy of President Obama” was part of a series of Howard University events marking Obama’s inauguration. Addressing an audience of 350 students in the Blackburn Center, panelists spoke about the African-American political agenda, finance and banking issues, health care reforms and other topics.

“I believe the reelection of President Obama is the most important political event for Black people in the United States since Martin Luther King died,” Mayor of Atlanta and Howard University Trustee Kasim Reed said during the discussion.  “His example is such a powerful example. He has redefined the executive position for all people of color.”

Reed was joined by panel moderator, Wilmer Leon, political scientist and nationally syndicated radio and TV talk show host; Michael Grant, president of the National Bankers Association; Dr. Greg Carr, Howard University associate professor and chair of Africana Studies; and Stephanie Brown James, a member of the 2013 Presidential Inauguration Committee and a Howard alumna.

James said African-American students were underrepresented in the corridors of power in Washington. She said many Black organizations needed to better articulate their political agenda.

“We can’t talk about organizing until we as a people grasp who we are and where we want to go,” James said, adding a challenge to Howard students that they not be “too quiet” in advancing their own political agenda.

In opening remarks, Wilmer Leon said while Obama represented a powerful symbol as the nation’s first Black president, the fulfillment of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s visions of justice remained elusive.

“Never confuse a down payment with a balance paid in full,” Leon said. “The dream was about freedom, justice and equality for the least of us.”


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