Rainbow’s WallStreet Summit

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The Summit will focus on key issues affecting minorities in the United States, including the reconstruction of Gulf States ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and the lack of access for minorities to Wall Street. The four-day Summit, entitled “A More Perfect Union: The Quest for Equity and Parity,� features a heavyweight roster of business executives, politicians, ministers, labor and civil rights leaders who will participate in a number of summit sessions

The Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Push Coalition announced that the 9th Annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit will be held from January 8-11, 2006, at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, 811 Seventh Ave., New York City. 

The Summit will focus on key issues affecting minorities in the United States, including the reconstruction of Gulf States ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and the lack of access for minorities to Wall Street.  The four-day Summit, entitled “A More Perfect Union: The Quest for Equity and Parity,â€? features a heavyweight roster of business executives, politicians, ministers, labor and civil rights leaders who will participate in a number of summit sessions.  These sessions will examine a wide variety of issues and a broad range of industries, as well as regional problems where minority access to opportunity and capital has been limited or denied.

Among the Summit’s confirmed and invited participants: are Sanford Weill, former CEO of Citigroup; billionaire executive Robert Johnson; Kenneth D. Lewis, Chairman and CEO of Bank of America; Bishops T.D. Jakes and Vashti McKenzie; Reverend Al Sharpton; NAACP leader Bruce Gordon; National Urban League President Marc Morial; Acting FEMA Director R. David Paulison; Alphonso Jackson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and Ed Gordon of National Public Radio.

Just a few years ago, history was made on Wall Street when the State of Ohio gave minority fund managers the opportunity to manage 10 percent of the $14.5 billion Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation Fund.  Because of this commitment, Ohio was viewed as a role model for other states, where the involvement of minority fund managers had been limited or non-existent, the summit organizers note. But today this program, which grew to include some 69 minority fund managers, is about to be dismantled by Republican Gov. Robert Taft amid allegations of inefficiency and mismanagement. 

Facing a lethal blow that could virtually wipe out some of the firms involved, many of the fund managers have turned to the Rainbow PUSH Wall Street Project for support.  The Ohio pension fund crisis is among the critical issues that will be addressed during this year’s Wall Street Project. The Ohio situation testifies to the continued importance of the conference, now celebrating its ninth anniversary and regarded as one of the most relevant and influential Wall Street events for minorities.

On Sunday, January 8th, the Summit’s opening day will address “Rebuilding After Katrina: The Right to Relocation, Reconstruction and Return.� Participants in this session include: Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network; Ann Marie Tallman, president of MALDEF; talk show host Tavis Smiley; Hector M. Flores, president of LULAC; and Congressional and State Legislators from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, including New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Congressman Benny Thompson (D-Miss.).

On Monday, January 9th, the Summit shifts focus to pension funds and Wall Street. Participants for the key session “Where is the Money?: Minority Participation in Corporate, Public and Institutional Pension Plans� are: John Rogers, Jr. and Mellody Hobson of Ariel Capital Management; Marquette Chester, president of the National Association of Security Professionals; author and motivational speaker George Fraser; prominent attorney Willie E. Gary; and successful entrepreneur and former star of television’s “The Apprentice,� Kwame Jackson.

On Tuesday, January 10th, religious leaders will discuss their strategies for helping their members and communities gain access to capital. The lineup for the session “The Church in the Market Place: Access to Home Ownership, Leveraging and Avoiding Economic Exploitation,� includes: Bishops Jakes and McKenzie; Reverend Sen. James Meeks, pastor of the 25,000-member House of Hope in Chicago; Reverend Dr. Major Jemison, president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention; and Reverend Dr. Stephen Thurston, president of the National Baptist Convention of America.

On the Summit’s closing day, Wednesday, January 11th, organized labor will provide its perspective on how minorities can gain more access to capital.  The list of leaders participating on the panel “Labor, Pensions, Corporate Governance & Globalizationâ€? includes: Clayola Brown of UNITE HERE and the A. Phillip Randolph Institute; Weldon Latham, Esq., partner in the firm Davis Wright Tremaine; Mr. Alan Rappaport, Market President, Bank of America, Sibal Holt, State President of the AFL-CIO in Louisiana; and New York City Comptroller William Thompson.
The Wall Street Project will also present its prestigious awards on Wednesday.  Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, said the Katrina meeting can provide a breakthrough for many minority organizations and businesses that have not yet received adequate answers and access from FEMA and other government agencies.

“Some people will ask, ‘Why are we still meeting on Wall Street? And what are we asking for?’â€? Reverend Jackson said. “Our answer is that we are coming to fight for justice, for inclusion, for access to technology, industry, capital and to even the playing field.â€?  He added, “We have been seeking a meeting with FEMA to get an update on contracts and the agency’s progress in addressing our concerns. We have not had that meeting yet.â€?

During the pension fund session on Monday, Reverend Jackson said, key legislators and experts from across the nation will convene to provide pertinent data and guidance to minority fund managers regarding such questions as who manages the state pension fund programs and how much money is in these funds.

“We are going to fight the Ohio elimination plan,� said Reverend Jackson, noting that some of the funds managed by minority fund managers had outperformed funds under mainstream management. “All of the minority fund managers will be wiped out if we don’t succeed at getting the governor to halt this action. If Ohio tumbles, all of the programs in other states will fall.�

Historically, the black church has taken the lead in many civil rights advances, with its leaders breaking ground in the fight to end slavery and Jim Crow laws, to gain the right to vote and to end segregated housing. Now, Reverend Jackson said, they must lead the fight to close the economic gaps.

The Wall Street Project, founded in 1997 on the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., uses the Breadbasket model of research, education, negotiation and reconciliation to promote inclusion, opportunity and economic growth by encouraging public and private industries to improve hiring and promotion practices.

For more information about the Wall Street Project, please visit the organization’s website,
www.wallstreetproject.org.
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