“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” Nora Roberts
That quote from romance novelist Nora Roberts was at the heart of the first Statewide Platform Convention that brought together African-American leaders from across the state to development a platform of issues important to Kansas’ African-American community. At that convention, held in Topeka on Nov. 21, 2015, these leaders heard the facts, discussed the issues, and voted a platform they felt if approved, would greatly improve life for African-American people across Kansas.
The adopted eight point platform addressed issues such as revision of the state’s payday lending laws, repeal of the state’s restrictive voter registration laws, increase in the state’s minimum wage and comprehensive package of criminal justice reform revisions. Like many other organizations, our platform was forwarded to state legislators across the state and we asked them to adopt our platform as submitted.
On behalf of African Americans across the state – we asked for something.
It’s a technique that’s followed each year by other organizations in the state. Annually and ahead of the legislative session, the business community, farmers, school boards, even the LGBT community presents a list of issues, or a platform, to the legislature.
The Kansas Black Leadership Council, a relatively new non-partisan organization, called for and planned the convention, and after the convention, they worked to help get the platform issues heard and acted on in the Kansas Legislature.
That’s the plan again this year: We’re going to ask for something. However, before we ask, we need to once again reach an agreement on what we’re asking for. This year we’ve set the date and place for our platform “convention” on Sat., Oct. 1 at the Junction City Opera House.
Who is a leader?
You are! If you care about the state of Black people in Kansas, join us, be heard, and have a say in the Kansas Black Leadership Council’s 2017 Platform. Any interested resident of Kansas is welcome to attend this free event. We’ll start with check-in at 9:30 a.m., with the meeting beginning at 10 a.m.
How the convention works?
Attend, and you’ll and you’ll leave with a better understanding of state-level issues through presentations from invited guests who have their finger on the pulse of either economic, health, education and criminal justice issues. After each presentation, there will be time for Q&A. The goal is to get convention attendees the knowledge they need to make informed decision. After the presentations, we’ll discuss the issues then take a vote to place the most important issues on our platform.
Attending the convention is free. Come and get all the information you can take in free of charge. There will be a lunch, and at KBLC, there is no free lunch. You can pass on lunch, but if you want to join us, lunch costs $10. Only members of KBLC will be allowed to vote on the platform. A one-year KBLC membership is just $10. KBLC is a non-partisan organization, so individuals who are Republican, Democrat, Independent or otherwise affiliated are invited to participate. Membership dues, plus any donations, will be used to help move the adopted agenda forward. The group hopes to hire a lobbyist to advocate on behalf of KBLC and Kansas’ African-American community during the 2017 legislative session.
Registration for the convention is online at Eventbrite, 2016 KBLC Convention. You can also pay for your KBLC membership at Eventbrite.
You can keep up to date with the Kansas Black Leadership Council on our website kansasblc.com or by following us on Facebook @kblc100.
After the platform is adopted, it will be released to the media, mailed to all members of the Kansas Legislature, posted online, and printed in The Community Voice. A post-convention press conference is also planned. on the steps of the Capitol to announce the platform’s adoption.
I look forward to seeing you at the 2016 Platform Convention as we begin to ask, step forward and go after.