A Reflection of the 2012 Phoenix Awards Dinner of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation

First Lady Michelle Obama

First Lady Michelle Obama’s inspiring keynote exhorted the audience to protect voting rights and expand the circle of democratic engagement. Photo credit: Ibrahim Dabo.

By Bill Fleming
Ib Talk Online Contributor

WASHINGTON, D.C.— I was honored Saturday night to attend the Phoenix Awards Dinner of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 2012 Annual Legislative Conference, with Executive Editor and Founder of IbTalkOnline, Ibrahim Dabo.

First Lady Michelle Obama highlighted the evening with her motivating and inspiring keynote exhorting the audience to protect voting rights and expand the circle of democratic engagement, that we might hand off a more Perfect Union to the next generation of Americans.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation wave greetings to guests at the Phoenix Awards Dinner. Photo credit: Ibrahim Dabo.

For me the occasion was a thought-provoking backdrop to my life and historical recollections as an American – the chance to experience “up close” some of our society’s best-known voices of justice and reason, but also struggle. At times the voices grew loud; the entire time, the gala celebration, even as it was conducted under a firmament of stars, hosted by stars and made perfect by teleprompters, could scarcely erase the memories of not-so-perfect days.

No one in attendance could help but bask in the wonderful light of the dinner venue – perhaps to celebrate what had long been written off as an American possibility, the election of a black president – but neither could anyone shield their eyes from the garish road ahead.

Bill Fleming, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings and Congressman Elijah Cummings

From L-R: Ib Talk Online Contributor Bill Fleming, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings and Congressman Elijah Cummings. Photo credit: Ibrahim Dabo.

The night was an opportunity to meet and greet: Baltimore’s very own Congressman and fighter for effective government, Elijah Cummings, and his superbly elegant wife, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who this past spring was elected the first African American woman to chair the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare; the indefatigable former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman and longtime New York Congressman, Charles Rangel; Congressional Black Caucus co-founder, 13-term Congressman and former Oakland, Calif. Mayor Ron Dellums; and one of Congress’s most towering figures, the Great Civil Rights Icon Himself, John Lewis, who gratefully obliged my reflection that I was deeply moved by his comments, in a PBS documentary I own, that Robert Kennedy would have been a great president. “He was my friend,” he told me.

Bill Fleming and  Civil Rights Icon John Lewis

From far L-R: Civil Rights Icon John Lewis and Ib Talk Online Contributor Bill Fleming. Photo credit: Ibrahim Dabo.

The great hall emptied and the cars began pulling up – the glittery dresses destined for their early hangers, as Congressional Black Caucus Chair and former Kansas City Mayor, the Rev. Emanuel Cleaver, had implored. For this year, the dinner attendees needed to get right back to work. And all eyes returned to the prize, little more than 40 days away.

Also see:
Michelle Obama Addresses the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Phoenix Awards Dinner and Urges Citizens to Vote
SPECIAL REPORT: March With Me And Press On, Obama Said In Congressional Black Caucus Speech
SPECIAL REPORT: Obama Determined to Finish Plan on Strengthening U.S. Economy
IB TALK ONLINE SPECIAL COMMENTARY: A Review Of President Obama’s Congressional Black Caucus Speech

About Ib Dabo

Ib Dabo, founder and executive editor of Ib Talk Online, is a writer, journalist, photographer, and communications and IT leader whose mission is to inspire and work with people to make a difference in our world. Visit his official website - www.IbDabo.com - to learn more. Follow @IbDabo on Twitter and also @IbTalkOnline on Twitter.