The 37th Annual NBCSL Legislative Conference hosted by TN caucus

Corey Johns,  Connected Tennessee executive director

Corey Johns,
Connected Tennessee executive director

State Rep. Joe Armstrong, NBCSL President

State Rep. Joe Armstrong,
NBCSL President

Recently, lawmakers from across the United States convened at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, TN, as the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) hosted its 37th Annual Legislative Conference. The theme of the conference, “PROGRESS: Moving Our States Forward Through Policy Action,” underscores NBCSL’s commitment to job creation, economic empowerment, and justice for the 50 million Americans NBCSL’s members represent.

With approximately 400 legislators in attendance — as well as public policy experts, advocates, corporate executives, media personalities, and celebrities; the most pressing issues effecting the underserved and impoverished communities were addressed. “Our state legislators are on the front lines of creating policy to help spur job creation and bring economic justice to under-served and impoverished communities,” explained NBCSL President Joe Armstrong, a Tennessee State Representative. “Our annual legislative conference provides a critical framework for policies that will be the foundation for state and federal legislation,” he further stated. Included in the line-up of attendees were: U.S. Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez; Emmy winner, Lynn Whitfield; Radio personality and author Michael Baisden; Grammy winner CeCe Winans; and Award-winning journalist and TV One Host, Roland Martin.

NBCSL members and a diverse group of policy experts convened on the following trending policy issues: Forging the Black Agenda on Immigration, Getting the Highest Return on ACA Implementation, Preparing our Youth to Take the Nation’s Helm, Leveraging the Power of HBCUs to Develop Rural Communities, Revolutioniz-ing Re-entry, and Building an Infrastructure for a New Energy for a New Energy Economy.

A primary focus will be the discussion and ratification of policy issues submitted by members of the organization with collaboration by community stakeholders. Those policies will be the foundation for state and federal legislation, the NBCSL policy platform for 2014, and collaboration with community-based organizations.

Also, highlighted at the convention was Connected Tennessee; and its impact of technology on youth, held doing the youth policy session. The session, “Preparing our Youth to Take the Nation’s Helm” was created to showcase the nation’s best policy ideas for legislators to educate and prepart the new generation to achieve its potential.

“NBCSL has long stood in favor of policies to prepare our youth to take our nation’s helm,” said Armstrong. “It is critical that we as leaders promote best practices that truly nurture, support, and empower future generations under our care.”

As the state broadband initiative, Connected Tennessee works to improve economic opportunity and quality of life through expanded access, adoption and use of broadband internet in Tennessee. Among those efforts, the award winning Computers 4 Kids (C4K) program has provided over 5,000 computers to disadvantaged youth across the state in partnerships with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tennessee. As a result, over 90,000 hours of digital literacy training were documented among these youth in 2012 alone. During the NBCSL Conference, Conneced Tenness shared practical solutions for policy-makers interested in the development of widespread technological advancement and access to broadband for youth in their states.

Connected Tennessee executive director Corey Johns said that their organization was excited about the opportunity to partivipate in the NBCSL’s Annual Conference by sharing their experience of expanding technology access for Tennessee’s youth with legislators and other attendees. “Ensuring that our youth have access to modern technology and are equipped with the digital skills required in today’s economy is essential to preparing them for tomorror’s opportunities,” he said.

The closing plenary, Galvanizing A State Agenda on Civil Rights will be moderated by Mr. Martin with remarks by The Honorable Thomas Perez; Pulitzer Prize Winner, Doug Blackmon; Lucia McBath, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America; Tamika Mallory; Former Executive Director of the National Action Network, and Kim McCray, Executive Director, Trayvon Martin Foundation.

The National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) is a membership association representing more than 600 African-American state legislators hailing from 45 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. NBCSL members represent more than 50 million Americans of various racial backgrounds. NBCSL monitors federal and state activity and provides this information to its members through policy symposiums and conferences.
Each year, NBCSL members pass policy resolutions that directly impact federal and state policy.

The organization focuses on issues that directly impact U.S. domestic policy and is committed to policies that positively affect all Americans. Learn more at