NBC-LEO Pushes Education, Economics to Showcase Hampton Roads

By Gordon, Mary France; Davis, Mae | Nation's Cities Weekly, July 10, 2000 | Go to article overview
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NBC-LEO Pushes Education, Economics to Showcase Hampton Roads

Gordon, Mary France, Davis, Mae, Nation's Cities Weekly

On the shores of the Elizabeth and James Rivers and in the backdrop of tall ships and Navy carriers, over 150 conference attendees and colleagues of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBC-LEO) assembled for this year's Annual NBC-LEO Summer Conference and Board of Directors Meeting hosted by the cities of Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia, June 21-24. Its theme was "Journey to Hampton Roads: Paths to Education and Economic Empowerment."

Throughout this year's meeting, conferees had opportunities to have mobile tours and interactive site visits in each of the four host cities amid the locales of prominent universities and nautical history.

Mamye BaCote, councilmember, Newport News, Va. and NBC-LEO Board member, served as this year's general conference chair and expressed her hopes that participants take advantage of the interaction with Virginia's leaders and outstanding educators as well as experience the rich cultural heritage of the region through the mobile tours.

Distinguished Speakers

NBC-LEO President Roosevelt Coats, councilmember, Cleveland, Ohio, remarked, "Our opportunities for in-depth discussions and meetings with prominent state leaders, such as Congressman Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Delegate Jerrauld Jones, chair of the Virginia State Legislative Black Caucus, and Senator Charles Robb (D-Va.), are a tribute to our organization's ability to garner the attention of our nation's leaders and gain their support and expertise in developing policies and programs for our own cities and towns.

In addition to these individuals, other illustrious speakers for this year's program included NLC President Bob Knight, mayor, Wichita, Kansas; former NLC and NBC-LEO President Jessie Rattley, former mayor, Newport News, Virginia; former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder, the nation's first African American elected governor and Dr. Dr. cornel West, author, scholar and professor at Harvard University.

According the Rep. Scott, "The community of Hampton Roads has worked hard to make sure that our schools and businesses are pathways to empowerment. We are proud to have the opportunity to highlight several model programs in our community that are making a difference for Hampton Roads residents. As we continue to welcome the new millennium, the leadership of local elected officials and members of NBC-LEO to insure that the paths to educational and economic empowerment remain open to all is critical. I want to work with you to make this happen."

NLC President Bob Knight was a guest speaker at Newport News' magnificent Mariners' Museum banquet event during the meeting. In his remarks to participants, he reminded everyone about his commitment to the NLC initiative of Undoing Racism and reflected upon his own life experiences and personal philosophy about the importance of valuing diversity and respecting all individuals of varying cultures in our communities.

Jessie Rattley was honored for her strong history of leadership at the national and local level. In accepting her tribute from leaders and participants, she poignantly reminded individuals about how important it is for leaders to demonstrate leadership, vision and fairness in their day-to-day governance in their city hall roles.

Members of the Virginia State Legislative Black Caucus, headed by Rep. Jerrauld Jones, also played an important part in this year's conference.

Highlighting Higher Education

The conference benefited from its exposure to four of the area's higher education institutions that are rich in academic achievements: Old Dominion University (http://www.odu. edu) in Norfolk where attendees received a university overview from President James Koch; Norfolk State University (http://www.

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