One of the highlights of The National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) 42nd Annual Legislative Conference held in New York was honoring Mayor David Dinkins with the organization’s Living Legend Award at the Apollo Theater. Mayor Dinkins graciously accepted the award from President Gregory W. Porter while his close friend, former U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel, and state legislators from across the nation, gathered on the stage around the Mayor. Dinkins received The Living Legend Award for his commitment to excellence throughout his professional career, the significant sacrifices and contributions he made for the betterment of society, and his lifelong service to improve the lives of African Americans.
It was an honor to present our living legend award to Mayor Dinkins for his decades of public service and extraordinary contributions to the city of New York. His historic mayoral victory paved the way for so many of usmyself includedto run for office, said President Porter. In addition to the Living Legend Award, NBCSL gave its State Nation Builders Award to Lillian Roberts (New York), Shirley Green-Reese (Georgia), and DeMetris Sampson Esq. (Texas), while Stephani Ybarra, Shaun King, and Stanley Nelson received National Nation Builder Awards.
Lillian Roberts, a New York labor pioneer, spent more than 60 years in the labor movement, including 13 years as executive director of District 37, AFSCME, New York City’s largest public employee union representing 121,000 public workers in New York City and the state; 50,000 retirees; and 54 locals. She is also Vice President of the NYC Central Labor council, and Co-Chair of the Municipal Labor Committee. During her tenure at DC37, Ms. Roberts negotiated contracts that resulted in unprecedented raises, health benefits and other safeguards for union members.
Shirley Green-Reese is a civil rights veteran, professor, and women’s sports influencer from Americus, GA. She is a surviving member of the 1963 Leesburg Stockade Girls, a group of 15 girls ages 12-15, who were arrested and held for 60 days in a stockade 30 miles from their homes for peacefully protesting and attempting to buy movie theater tickets at the white patrons’ ticket booth in Americus. As an adult, she became the first female athlete director in the state of Georgia and a member of the NCAA’s Management Council for five consecutive years.
DeMetris Sampson, Esq. is an attorney and most recently served as Managing Partner of the Dallas office of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP, where she practiced for nearly 27 years, specializing in the fields of civil and criminal practice and was a chairperson of the firm’s Management Committee. She is the first African American woman to become a partner in a majority firm in Dallas.
Stephani Ybarra, is a theater producer and the newly appointed artistic director of Baltimore Center Stage. She most recently served as the director of special artistic projects at the Public Theater in New York City. One of the rising stars of American non-profit theatre, Ms. Ybarra is known as a leader and a producer who is equally grounded in artistic excellence and a passion for social justice. She is the recipient of the Josephine Abady Award for producing from New York’s League of Professional Theatre Women; and the Congressional Award for Achievement in Excellence from Zara Aina.
Shaun King is a Brooklyn-based journalist, humanitarian, and activist. A columnist for The Intercept and Writer-In-Residence at Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Project, he is one of the most compelling voices of today’s Black Lives Matter Movement. Mr. King is well known for using his columns and social media to tell stories of injustice and amplify awareness of racism, voter suppression, mass incarceration and killings of unarmed black people. He also helps raise funds for victims of brutality and discrimination.
Stanley Nelson, Jr. is a master documentary filmmaker. His films, many of which have aired on PBS, combine compelling narratives with rich and deeply researched historical detail, shining new light on both familiar and under-explored aspects of the African-American experience. His latest film, Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities, examines the impact HBCUs have had on American history, culture, and national identity. In May 2018, Starbucks commissioned him to create a short filmed called Story of Access,” which was used when the company closed more than 8,000 stores for bias training workshops.
The recipients of this year’s Nation’s Builders Awards have distinguished themselves through lifelong service and dedication to the enfranchisement and inclusion of people of color. Their contributions have, and continue to, help advance racial, social, gender and economic equality in our country, said Porter.
The Award presentations were only one segment of the ALC. Legislators from across the nation heard presentations from policy experts from the U.S. Census Bureau; Reverend Al Sharpton; Dr. Jeff Gardere; National Education Association Vice President Becky Pringle; Pfizer’s Chief Medical Officer for Rare Disease, Kevin Williams; and other executives from corporations and non-profit organizations. The Legislators at the conference developed policy resolutions that will be the foundation for state and national legislation.
We addressed voter suppression, redistricting, health disparities, the 2020 Census, equity in education, and increasing Black Wealth, said President Porter. Legislators also discussed strategies to ensure that African American communities participate in infrastructure projects that will upgrade roads, bridges, and bring 5G to cities and towns across America. We worked very closely with the New York Caucus to ensure that the critical issues were discussed and that we had the experts at the conference from the private and non-profit sectors to provide their input on how NBCSL can make a difference and improve the lives of all people, said Porter. The conference was hosted locally in partnership with the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus.
About the National Black Caucus of State Legislators
Comprised of nearly 700 black state legislators in 45 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) primary mission is to develop, conduct and promote educational, research and training programs designed to enhance the effectiveness of its members, as they consider legislation and issues of public policy which impact, either directly or indirectly upon “the general welfare” of African American constituents within their respective jurisdictions.