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Black National Convention seeks to shape Black agenda ahead of November elections

Black National Convention focusing on Black issues
Black National Convention focusing on Black i... 07:26

Now that Democrats and Republicans have wrapped up their quadrennial national party conventions, a coalition of Black organizations is convening its 2020 Black National Convention Friday evening at 7 p.m. ET.

The livestream event, hosted and organized by the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) will feature a series of conversations and performances aimed at shaping a Black agenda ahead of the 2020 elections

"People kept saying to us we want to engage in public policy, we want to engage in protest, we want to engage in electoral strategy, we want to engage in deep organizing and we want to do it on our own terms with our own self-determining vision for black lives," Movement for Black Lives' Electoral Justice Project Co-founder Jessica Byrd told CBS News. 

The event is inspired by the first Black National Convention held in Gary, Indiana in 1972. It brought together a who's who of Black political thought leaders and activists, including Shirley Chisholm, Reverend Jesse Jackson Jr.,Coretta Scott King, Dr. Betty Shabazz and Harry Belafonte.

"There have been so many examples over our history where movements and leaders have convened to talk and struggled through big ideas — what they wanted to see in our communities which is exactly what happened in 1972 in Gary," said convention co-host Kayla Reed. "We are in that legacy, we are having these debates out loud."

Black National Convention co-producer Rukia Lumumba told CBSN's Elaine Quijano on "Red & Blue" Thursday that it's "the first time in 40 years we've seen a convention of this kind come to fruition again."

Lumumba said the hope for the convention is that it launches a Black political agenda ahead of the November Elections. "We know that Black voters will play a pivotal role in determining what the next four years will look like," she said.

The event comes on the heels of another wave of protests spurred by the police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. On Sunday, the father of three was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot in the back by in front of his three children. The incident bookends a summer of unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. 

 "We know that the same folks who are fighting on the front lines to protect our families from this violence and on the front lines to push back against police violence are going to be the voters that flip states," Reed said.  

The convention will take place a few hours after the 2020 March on Washington wraps up. The march, organized by the National Action Network, calls for racial justice and police reform.

M4BL has drafted a policy platform that will be ratified during the convention. It outlines demands for the first 100 days of the next administration, including action on defunding the police, investments in housing, health care and childcare and efforts to combat environmental racism. 

"Five hundred delegates from 22 states of Black people across the nation ratified an agenda that speaks to the needs and wants of Black Americans," Lumumba said of the platform.

The convention will also focus on building Black political engagement with the goal of reaching four million African-American voters across the country. 

"Voting is a means to an end, not an end in itself and so to the extent that we're talking about the agenda and the items that we want to see pushed forward in our community, that voting is one tool, " said LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter Fund, which is one of several organizations involved in the convention.  

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