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The Cosmopolitan Review

Yvonne Delaney Mitchell | 2/27/2014, 4:26 p.m.

Cheer up, everyone. The first day of spring is swiftly approaching, and it’s roughly three more weeks before daylight saving time. The days last a little longer and the temperature is climbing slowly but surely. Just don’t take off the hat, scarf and coat yet—even though some of the stylish ones among us have been seen with their coats wrapped around their shoulders on some of those balmy afternoons.

Neither rain, snow, sleet nor below freezing temperatures stopped people from gathering for the 43rd annual New York State Black and Puerto Rican Legislators Conference Weekend, held in Albany, N.Y. The conference held fast to its standards of hosting high-quality workshops on topics pertinent to today’s economic climate and providing first-rate entertainment. With a series of networking events and casual sit-downs in the lobby of the Hilton Albany, where most of the action took place, everyone walked away with a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.

There was a vast variety of panels, which covered topics such as school governance from the parents’ perspectives; building a leadership pipeline for women; the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practice (Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman was one of the sponsors, and Arva Rice, president and CEO of the New York Urban League, was among the panelists); how does the executive budget impact our communities; how small companies compete and win in the new generation of public-private partnerships; how do we educate, empower and prepare our youth for the future, moderated by Regent James O. Jackson; a look at health care in New York making parole reform real to make our communities safe; engagement, support and representation of people of color in journalism; international business opportunities (investing in Africa); and strategies for a successful state, among others.

The rotation of movies that played throughout the day were “Hidden Colors,” a documentary about the real and untold history of people of color around the globe; “The House I Live In,” which took a penetrating look inside America’s criminal justice system and drug policies from the eyes of the dealer to the narcotics officer, the inmate to the federal judge; “Criminal Injustice: Death and Politics at Attica,” which examined the 40-plus-year cover-up of the Attica prison uprising.

The annual labor luncheon was sold-out. The 2014 gala keynote speaker was Michael Blake, director of public policy and external affairs for Green For All, a national organization working to build an inclusive green economy “strong enough to lift people out of poverty,” according to his introduction statement. The weekend concert featured sultry heartthrob Johnny Gill. More about the networking receptions next week.

It may have been cold outside, but inside, the spirit was warmed by the participants, sponsors and all those who were involved. Whether it was a major player or bystander, the conference had something for everyone, and everyone walked away feeling a little bit stronger, invigorated by the camaraderie and encouraged by the agenda, which was thoughtfully laid out and executed. I’m looking forward to next year.

The Museum of the City of New York held its annual Winter Ball at the Pierre Hotel, raising over $650,000 for the museum’s programs. Because the museum kicks off Museum Mile and it’s uptown, I always feel some sort of affinity for any event that supports the museum. However, it’s the Museum for African Art, which is even further uptown at 110th Street, that has taken over that prestigious position. Hopefully, there will be many major galas to support that museum as well; if not, we always have the Studio Museum, whose gala is always a star-studded event.