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Jesse Jackson hosts annual Wall Street Summit

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 2/7/2013, 2:42 p.m.

Continuing Dr. Martin Luther King's movement for economic justice was the focus of the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Project Economic Summit. Now in its 16th year, the annual gathering took place last week at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York. This year's summit, "Wall Street to Main Street: Economic Parity, The Struggle Continues," focused on access to capital, career development and labor.

The Wall Street Economic Summit brought together the nation's leaders, from politics to corporations to entrepreneurs to Wall Street--all to discuss the economic parity and concerns unique to men and women of African-American, Hispanic and other minority cultures.

Several notable faces made appearances at this year's conference, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, former President Bill Clinton, Dr. Julianne Malveaux and former New York Gov. David Paterson. This year's honorary co-chairs included Danny J. Bakewell Sr., John Graves, R. Donahue Peebles and Rep. Maxine Waters.

Several local and state elected officials also attended the summit, including City Comptroller John Liu, Assemblyman Karim Camara, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

"The goal of the conference is simple: to become a change-agent for a more efficient and diversified workforce by giving individuals the correct tools, resources and knowledge that will ultimately lead to better business and career opportunities and increasing their bottom line," said Jackson. "We are able to open doors for those on Wall Street that have been closed for years. It's about creating an economic parity for our community."

The three-day summit hosted several meetings and discussions, including the Wall Street Project Career Symposium, aimed at strengthening professionals with the tools, insights, skills and resources to enhancing and managing career opportunities. Other discussions highlighted advertising in ethnic media, parity in public procurement, construction projects and management of public pension funds and the business of hip-hop.

General Motors and WEtv sponsored the "Access to Capital" luncheon with a special performance by multi-Grammy Award-winning artist Mary Mary and a keynote address from Clinton. Addressing economic disparity, Clinton said, "We need an economic policy for everyone. We need to invest in the future as well as in the past."

Jackson pointed out that with the bailout and the nation falling over the fiscal cliff, there is a need for serious change when it comes to the way Black America is treated.

"Money reconstruction does not come from government, but using the power of government to inspire people to get involved will enforce future opportunities," said Jackson. "This year we are expanding the opportunity for access to capital, industry and technology. As we reach the pinnacle of political achievement, we realize that we still have a great deal to accomplish."

On Thursday, Jackson rang the NASDAQ closing bell with a delegation of South African representatives and Wall Street Summit special guests. Later that evening, a gala was held to honor Motown founder and music legend Berry Gordy with special guest Dionne Warwick and a preview of Gordy's new off-Broadway play "Motown the Musical." Jackson stated he was honoring Gordy for many reasons, including his commitment to the fight and those occasions he helped keep the doors of Rainbow/PUSH open.

The "Civil Rights and Economic Justice Ministers" luncheon honored the Rev. Joseph Carter, New Hope Baptist Church, Newark, N.J.; Dr. Frederick D Haynes III, senior pastor of the Friendship-West Baptist Church, Dallas; and the Rev. Andrew Wilkes, affiliate minister of the Greater Allen cathedral of New York and editor of Urban Faith. Sharpton also gave a speech about Dr. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement.

The Wall Street Project resulted in the creation of strategic alliances with union leaders, major corporations, community leaders and political representatives. Jackson said the summit resulted in several solutions to move forward.

"Reconstruction and economic parity is a must. It is our responsibility to participate in the economic process and work together to gain access to capital," he said. "The infrastructure for Black economic advancement is not working well as it should, but the Wall Street Project and Rainbow PUSH is the key for our collective success."