Conference Aims to Boost Black City Leadership

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African Americans must look to city leaders in the absence of supportive leadership from the state and national government, Jackson Ward 4 Councilman De'Keither Stamps said at a July 17 press conference.

He was highlighting the central theme of this year's conference for the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials, or NBC-LEO; he is its president.

At Wednesday's presser, Rickey Thigpen, president of Visit Jackson, welcomed delegates of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials to the city of Jackson—which he said has "perseverance" and a "triumphant spirit."

"Prepare yourself to be submerged in southern hospitality," Thigpen said. "It is our wish that Jackson, Mississippi, provides the perfect environment to network and further provide the strategies that will impact transformational leadership and the growth of NBC-LEO."

The National League of Cities is an organization that "serves the interests of 19,000 cities, towns, and villages in the US, as well as, professionals working in municipal government," its website says. Within the NLC is the NLC-LEO,a network that represents the interests of black local elected officials.

The caucus hosts an annual summer conference that helps local leaders develop governance and leadership skills that focus on the interests of the African American community. The conference includes seminars, networking and presentations from keynote speakers. This year, the city of Jackson is hosting the conference.

"As we look at a time now where Mississippi now has more black elected officials than any other state, this is certainly an appropriate place to host this conference," Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba said.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson of Gary, Ind., said the National League of Cities understands the importance the black caucus plays in the fabric and meaning of the organization.

"You represent all of those individuals who are disenfranchised, who are sometimes feeling left out and who would not have a voice if not for

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