By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Contributor
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and his Democratic colleague Kamala Harris of California certainly looked presidential as Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee formally introduced the pair as co-chairs of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 48th Annual Legislative Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the nation’s capital.
When asked whether they could announce a 2020 run, Harris and Booker smiled, looked at each other, before dismissing the questions.
“Right now, we have so much on our plate with the [just concluded] confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh,” Harris said.
Jackson-Lee offered that Congress was “doing a lot of constitutional research” on the Kavanaugh situation after NNPA Newswire asked if he was confirmed but President Donald Trump is ultimately indicted and impeached.
“There’s over 200 members of the press here and it’s mighty important,” Jackson-Lee said. “We have strived, clawed, stoop up and defended and our message has to get out and we hope the press find the guts to be steadfast [and get the word out] from this important conference,” she said.
The congresswoman and the senators, who were joined by CBCF President and CEO, A. Shuanise Washington, began the conference by offering thoughts and prayers for those in the path of Hurricane Florence.
Jackson-Lee said Congress is prepared to help all those affected by the storm regardless of what the White House does.
“We will be the backbone for making it work and we are prepared to fight for our constituency,” Jackson-Lee said.
She said she’s been in touch with Congressman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, Jim Clyburn of South Carolina and others so as to keep tabs on the situation.
Florence is set to walloped the southeast as it emerges as potentially the biggest hurricane in decades. Several states, including North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, have declared emergencies ahead of the storm.
Meanwhile, the conference’s theme, “The Dream Still Demands: Courage, Resilience, Leadership and Legislation,” remained at the forefront of the opening media event.
“This is a critical time,” Booker said. “The CBC is the conscience of Congress and we have not yet achieved the American Dream which is increasingly out of reach for many. The Dream is still deferred,” he said.
Harris, who like Booker has gone from rising star to serious presidential contender, said the conference should serve as a reminder of the work ahead.
“It’s about where we came from and where we’ve got to go,” she said. “That’s what this conference is about, and this is a pivotal moment.”
Throughout the week, the conference will include multiple workshops and guests that will focus on issues that affect Black America and the African diaspora.
As previously reported by the NNPA Newswire, hot button topics at the center of the convention include immigration, civil and social justice, economic equity, education, technology and criminal justice reform.
“I think we all know when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. talked about the Dream, it wasn’t about being asleep,” Harris said. “It was about being awake.”