This year’s conference entitled, “Why We Can’t Wait: Mobilize, Inspire, Act!” seeks to motivate attendees to resist discrimination and demand justice. In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote “Why We Can’t Wait” to outline racial segregation in the United States. King said, “Just as lightning makes no sound until it strikes, the Negro Revolution generated quietly. But when it struck, the revealing flash of its power and the impact of its sincerity and fervor displayed a force of a frightening intensity. Three hundred years of humiliation, abuse, and deprivation cannot be expected to find voice in a whisper. . . There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.”
As the country begins a new era, we will no longer wait for the dream to be fulfilled. We will no longer wait for change to happen. It is time to use our voice and demand a better nation for all. Join us this year to learn how you can mobilize, inspire, and act with your communities!
Over the past eleven years, the Black Policy Conference has grown into one of higher education’s leading policy-driven venues. Convening some of the greatest minds committed to serving our community, the event aims to develop sustainable solutions to challenges impacting black communities. We strive to bring together scholars, advocates, policymakers, and practitioners to inspire new agents of change.
2016 presents us with a critical opportunity to reexamine what constitutes black policy. In the twilight of America’s first black presidency, we find ourselves in a pivotal moment for our democracy and for our community in particular. Questions of social and economic justice have dominated headlines over the past year and will undoubtedly continue to dominate the political conversation in the coming era. As competing campaigns present their respective visions for our future in this election year, we must seize the opportunity to speak truth to power and hold political actors accountable long after we leave the polls.
With this context in mind, the 2016 Black Policy Conference will focus on how we can keep our most critical issues at the forefront of our federal, state, and local political agendas through this election cycle and beyond. This summit will convene leaders from a variety of sectors to address our biggest challenges across civic engagement, education, criminal justice, healthcare and more.
For 10 years, the Black Policy Conference at the Harvard Kennedy School has provided a forum for discussing issues specifically impacting black and brown communities, in an institutional environment which rarely fosters these conversations. This year’s Black Policy Conference Steering Committee believes that the time has come to partner these critically-needed discussions, with purposeful action.
The purpose of the 2015 Black Policy Conference is to mobilize, strategize, and skill-build. Our hope is that by capacity-building and strategizing together, attendees will be motivated and continue to work towards a more just society once the Conference has ended. This year, many members of the BPC Steering Committee were devastated by the events that took place this summer in Ferguson, Missouri. Many of us joined the BPC because we were motivated to take action to prevent such an event from happening again. Due to the salience of this issue, the 2015 BPC will explore the policies and institutions that contributed to the loss of a young man’s life in Ferguson and how we can mobilize, strategize, and skill build to prevent it from happening again. Therefore, this year’s keynote speakers and panels will focus on the link between the failures of the criminal justice system and other policies impacting the black community. Panel topics will cover: The School to Prison Pipeline, Voting/Civic Engagement, Housing Policy, and Police Brutality.