After her star turn at the Democratic National Convention, where she stole the show, First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver the keynote address at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) dinner tonight. The annual Phoenix Awards Dinner is the culminating event of the foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference. More than 3,000 guests and luminaries are expected at the dinner in the main ballroom of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the nation’s capital. It will mark the first time that a first lady has addressed the dinner.
"We are so pleased that Mrs. Obama will serve as the keynote speaker for the awards dinner," said Elsie L. Scott, president and chief executive officer for CBCF. "As a former CBC Spouse, Mrs. Obama is quite familiar with our mission at the Foundation, and we are certain that her remarks will be both thought provoking, and most importantly, inspire our audience to do their part to prepare the next generation of leaders," she said.
There will be several awards bestowed during the course of the evening. The CBCF Chair’s Award, given to an individual whose work and accomplishments stand as a role model for the African-American community and the African Diaspora, will be bestowed upon U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. Legendary director and filmmaker George Lucas will be honored for work that exhibits the highest standards of dedication, ability and creativity. Lucas was the force behind Red Tails, the movie chronicling the exploits and bravery of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen. The Harold Washington Award, named after the late Chicago mayor is given to an individual who has contributed immeasurably to African-American political awareness, empowerment and the advancement of minorities in the electoral process. This year the Washington Award will be given to Rep. Corrine Brown of Florida and the Honorable Harvey Gantt, the first African-American mayor of Charlotte and the individual who integrated Clemson University.
Recent past award recipients include EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson; Athlete, Entrepreneur & Humanitarian George Edward Foreman, Sr.; Civil Rights Activist Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery; and U.S. Rep. and Civil Rights Activist John Lewis.
The historic appearance by the First Lady at the Phoenix Awards Dinner comes with just weeks remaining until the November 6 election and President Obama engaged in a tight race with his challenger, Republican Mitt Romney. First Lady Michelle Obama is generally recognized as the not-so-secret weapon of the Obama White House and she enjoys enormous popularity. Her speech at the Democratic Party’s convention in Charlotte set the tone for the proceedings and was hailed by political pundits across the partisan spectrum. A Princeton and Harvard Law School graduate, the First Lady established her legitimacy as a prospective political candidate on the stage of the Time Warner Cable Arena at the convention. She proved herself up to the task of delivering a speech that defined the political imperatives of the moment for her party, framed the presidential race in a way that was stripped of any disdain for her husband’s opponent and brilliantly cast the President as deserving of a second term. Her convention speech is certainly one of the most memorable in present day recollection of convention history.
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. was established in 1976 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit, public policy, research and education institute to help improve the socioeconomic circumstances of African Americans and other underserved communities.