By Dianne Campbell
In April I found myself wandering around Capitol Hill in Washington, DC at 9:30am on an unusually cold spring morning. I was searching for the National Urban League’s (NUL) “On the Hill” advocacy gathering; the kick-off event for the 11th annual Legislative Policy Conference (LPC). To fight the nippy air, I moved swiftly through crowds of tourists, politicians, and professionals, hoping to recognize a familiar face among the huddlers. I was unsure of what to expect from the three-day conference, as this was my first year attending the LPC and I was a new member of the New York Urban League Young Professionals (NYULYP).
However, the LPC delivered in more ways than I could have imagined. Joining the Young Professionals, Guilds, and other Urban League members from across the country allowed me to see that I was a part of something much greater than myself. The conference also reinforced the importance of addressing issues that continue to impact our communities and working everyday to for a better society. This year’s conference focused on increasing the federal minimum wage, passing the Voting Rights Amendment Act, and funding for Urban League programs such as job training and STEM education, among others. A major part of the LPC was addressing the issues with political representatives from our respective states. The New York Urban League and its Young Professionals (YP) group joined forces with fellow chapters from Buffalo, Rochester, and Long Island to visit New York State representatives. We were able to meet with the office of Kirsten Gillibrand, Yvette D. Clarke, and Charles Rangel.
In addition to meeting with political representatives, we continued the conversations at special events and workshops. As I listened to Marc Morial, President of the NUL and other esteemed leaders throughout the conference, I felt empowered to play my role in the organization. I was inspired to find ways to positively impact the NYUL and NYULYP in achieving the league’s greater mission. I was reminded of the importance of why we exist. We exist to continue to address civil rights needs of African Americans and other disadvantaged communities. We exist to maintain the legacy of those who have struggled and died to provide us with the privileges that we enjoy today. Sometimes we forget that something as simple as choosing which bathroom to use is a privilege. In the busy society where we live, it is easy to forget that the fight for justice and equality for all people is a continuous movement. The LPC reminded us that although we have made great strides, there is still work to be done.
Throughout the conference we also had the opportunity to connect and develop relationships with professionals from across the nation. I was able to meet and connect with members of my chapter; the NYULYP and our affiliate; NYUL in a smaller and more intimate setting. Our members and leaders are a dynamic group of people and it was a pleasure to be in their company. Another highlight of the conference was meeting with other YP members who hailed from places across the country like Boston, Los Angeles, Dallas, Buffalo, Atlanta, and Houston. It was an amazing experience to see that so many young people are a part of the movement. As I reflected on my experience at LPC, I felt proud to be a part of the NYULYP and empowered to make my contribution to the movement.
I encourage all NYULYP members, new and old, to take the opportunity to attend the LPC next year.
About the Author, Diane Campbell
Dianne is a Marketing and Communications professional living in Brooklyn, NY. She is excited to join the New York Urban League Young Professionals and looks forward to growing with the chapter.