The Rainbow PUSH Wall Street Project (WSP) will celebrate 20 years of struggle in the heart of the financial sector. It’s annual economic summit conference will take place from February 15 – 17x at the Grand Hyatt New York.
This year’s conference will occur against the somewhat depressing backdrop of the new Trump administration’s takeover and transformation in Washington.
Nevertheless, Rainbow PUSH founder/President Reverend Jesse L. Jackson is optimistic where others might be depressed. He will prepare for the worst while working hard to make the best out of the new political realities. So, while mindful of the government transition, the summit will focus on the project itself and its ongoing efforts. “We’re looking to explore the two decades of progress and where do we go from here. We have accomplished a tremendous amount over the last 20 years, however, as we enter a new political landscape we need to stay at the table to ensure that true diversity is met.”
Honorary summit chairpersons include Senator Charles Schumer, retired Harlem Congressperson Charles Rangel, and NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer. Other notable participants include Rev. Dr. Johnnie Youngblood, Dr. Julieanne Malveax, Alice Rivlin, and Ms. Cheryl Wills of New York One. Although its main focus is on Wall Street and finance, the summit examines many sectors of the economy including healthcare, entertainment, international business, religion, and more.
Opening day Wednesday will have education as its theme. Special all day programs will target middle school, high school, and college students. For many young people, it will be their first serious conversation about the stock market, investment, wealth creation, or associated career opportunities. Young people can’t aspire to careers they don’t know exist or consider working in industries they are unaware of. The workshops will explain the types of careers associated with the technology, finance, and retail sectors. They will outline the educational requirements necessary to work in each field. In addition, the conference will highlight the continuing importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) who generate a disproportionately large portion of the nation’s African-American engineers, physicians, mathematicians, and scientists.
Wednesday’s session will conclude with a presentation from PUSH Tech 2020, part of an effort to develop central Harlem as an outpost of New york’s growing technology sector. Silicon Harlem will moderate a series of live presentations highlighting Harlem based innovative technology.
The Thursday summit agenda will be an evaluation of the project’s effectiveness in addressing its core mission of inclusion, diversity, and equal opportunity. A morning workshop will look at corporate support and supply businesses. Every large corporation, whether on Wall Street or Main Street, needs a chain of supplier businesses to thrive. Who caters the lunches, who replaces the lightbulbs, who buys the furniture, computers, copy paper, etc. The project believes that, while the number and quality of “minority-” and women-owned businesses have grown substantially, the willingness of Wall Street firms to contract with these businesses hasn’t kept pace. This was one of the key issues raised by the project since its inception. One radical approach raised by the conference will be a move away from the “lowest bid” method of choosing suppliers. This would allow smaller businesses to compete with the larger supply firms that can use their size to overwhelm smaller competitors.
Earl “Butch” Greaves, Black Enterprise Chairman and CEO, will be a major presenter in the afternoon workshop evaluating the 20 year history of the project. In addition to a critical analysis of the organization’s 20 year history, the workshop will point out a sustainable future agenda that can reverse some of the recent setbacks in the political and wealth creation areas
The conference will conclude on Friday, with a focus on the business and employment implications of public policy decisions. From infrastructure investment, to education, to “Obama Care” – every government action creates and disrtributes economic opportunity.
This summary is a very abbreviated listing of the many programs and issues the summit conference will address. To me, the key issue will be the willingness of Rev. Jackson’s allies on Wall Street to oppose any ‘turn back the clock” policies in civil rights, taxes, or employment as the Trump administration unfolds.
For more information, go to www.rainbowpushwallstreetproject.org/agenda.html