Why We Still Matter
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“Why We Still Matter in America” was a political cypher presented by the Black Public Relations Society (BPRS) on Oct. 20, 2016. The panel was among BPRS’s third Thursday program; for BPRS, every third Thursday of the month will be dedicated to a community engagement, this time in the form of a discussion on politics and its role in individual rights, race, gender and policy in America.

“We are not going to be a quiet chapter anymore. We intend on making a lot of noise,” moderator and PR specialist Barbara Holt Streeter told {AFRO}. “This panel is a part of that noise. It’s so diverse. We have representations of democrats, republicans, lobbyist, pastors, and someone on Capital Hill. They all have different perspectives and platforms in the Black and broad community — they show that we have a voice.”

The panel included Democratic Strategist, Kiara Pesante, Principal for the Podesta Group, Dana Thompson, National Director of Faith and African American Engagement for Enroll America, David Street, Senior Vice Chairman of D.C.’s Grand Old Party, Ralph Chittams, President of D.C. Democratic Women’s Club, Rev. Dr. E. Gail Anderson Holness and Co-Founder of Higher Heights, Kimberly Peller Allen. The panelists all touched on their own political views and drove the conversation toward a central theme: the responsibility of Black Americans to be loud in politics.

“To be speaking at a panel entitled ‘Why We Still Matter in America’ means I get the chance to teach another life and make someone think. We have to re-learn that for Black people to influence and engage and vote is important,” Democratic Strategist Kiara Pesante told {AFRO}.

The panel open the floor to audience and community questions, as well as comments. Opinions bounced and built off of one another, even causing a heated debate between a liberal audience member and the Black republican Ralph Chittams as they discussed whether or not Hillary Clinton was right in calling republicans “the deplorables.” The Thurgood Marshall Center, in which the event was held, was alive with Black passion as the group equally expressed a frustration with the way the current election is running, as well as the lack of Black voice or Black issues being addressed.

“Black people need to be more involved in politics,” Holt Steeter told {AFRO}. “We have to start at the grass root level. We have to start in the communities, start a neighborhood council, and move up from local to city, to state, to federal. I asked the audience who ever planned on running for something and only two people raised their hands. We have to see the importance of representing ourselves.”

To see parts of the panel, visit the Afro American Newspaper’s Facebook page for live videos.

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