Nearly 30 members of the clergy and other community leaders from Queens traveled to Washington, DC on Tuesday to attend U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s first-ever legislative summit of African-American Faith-Based Leaders.
The event, entitled “Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships: A Plan to Impact Our Communities,” was attended by more than 200 leaders across New York State, including 92 citywide ministers, church pastors and executive directors who represent faith-based groups, congregations and organizations primarily serving black communities.
The goal was to address economic issues, such as unemployment and housing disparities, as well as differences in access to quality health care and education. Panels of experts guided conversations on how to build financial stability within the African-American community by broadening and strengthening business and employment opportunities, and how federal authorities can work with faith communities to improve health care, make communities safer, and provide more effective, efficient services.
“Faith-based institutions are pillars for our state and our nation,” Gillibrand said. “These organizations have been invaluable for families across New York, helping them stay afloat through this tough economy. In order to have an impact on our communities, we must partner with faith-based organizations and support many of the critical services they provide.”
In addition to Gillibrand and other members of New York’s congressional delegation, participants also had an opportunity to meet with United States Secretary for Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and representatives from the White House and the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Department of Justice, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and Commerce.
The tough economy has left nearly one out of every five African-Americans out of work, according to Gillibrand. In the face of a difficult economy and what she contends are extreme budget cuts, her legislative summit addressed how faith leaders can successfully utilize federal resources to confront current challenges facing African-American communities in New York.
Gillibrand also focused on her legislation to eliminate health disparities, including the National Black Clergy for the Elimination of HIV/AIDS Act, which would provide $567 million to help fight HIV/AIDS in the black community, and the Eliminating Disparities in Breast Cancer Treatment Act, which is designed to end racial disparities in access to care by establishing best practices for breast cancer treatment and penalties for providers that do not offer best practices to all patients.