#JustEconomy 2018 conference highlights

The 2018 Just Economy Conference took place April 9-11 in Washington, D.C. It's the national event for economic justice leaders, policymakers, journalists, academics and entrepreneurs concerned about fairness in housing, banking and business.

Here are some of our favorite moments from the conference.

April 9

The end of racism and the end of poverty will occur when we are successfully able to build empathy and compassion for each other, across racial lines. As long as we have segregated communities we will continue to lack an understanding which leads to empathy and compassion for each other.

- John Taylor, President and Founder, NCRC

Ben Carson wants to take discrimination out of the HUD mission statement. But segregation hurts everybody. It hurts our views and our education. There is a tug of war over the soul of America tonight. Will we allow ourselves to be pulled forward by hope and love or tugged backwards by hate?

- Rev. Jesse Jackson, President and Founder, Rainbow PUSH

Rev. Jesse Jackson was honored with the NCRC Global Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in the US and around the globe to improve the quality of life for all people.

Pat Moore from the Ouachita, Louisiana, Parish Police Jury listens to Rev. Jesse Jackson's keynote speech.
NCRC's board chairman, Bob Dickerson (middle), announced some big news for the organization at the #JustEconomy Conference
I have been blessed to do what I have done these 26 years with NCRC, but I am far from done, and I am so grateful to my friend and colleague at NCRC, Jesse Van Tol, and that he has stepped up to co-lead this great organization, your organization.

- John Taylor, President and Founder, NCRC

We need new leadership. New leadership isn't just younger people stepping up. New leadership can be found in all of us. It's finding the extra burst when you are exhausted. New leadership is setting aside our egos, our petty concerns, and working together.

- Jesse Van Tol, CEO, NCRC

I am in awe of what John has done, and you should be too. He built this organization from scratch, from a one person shop to a 70-person powerhouse, with a conference of over 1,100 people. His passion and fire in the belly often interpreted as anger. He holds everyone accountable for the thing he cares about more than anything else: opportunity and justice for all.

- Rev. Jesse Jackson, President and Founder, Rainbow PUSH

Photo: Rev. Jesse Jackson teases John Taylor during Jesse Van Tol’s remarks on John’s commitment to the organization.

Bryan Jordan, chairman and CEO of First Horizon National Corp., surrounded by representatives of community groups, announces First Tennessee Bank’s Community Benefits Agreement with NCRC at NCRC’s Just Economy Conference April 9, 2018.
First Tennessee Bank and Capital Bank have been actively engaged in meaningful conversations with our members to ensure that they are well positioned to meet the needs of underserved communities.

- John Taylor, President and Founder, NCRC

Bruce Murphy (left) with Bob Dickerson, chairman of the NCRC board of directors, at the 2018 Just Economy Conference.
Bruce is the son of a politically engaged steelworker from Youngstown, Ohio. He learned from a young age that community involvement goes a long way. Like his father, who was a union president, Bruce has always understood the value of listening to the needs of the community.

- John Taylor, President and Founder, NCRC

Hubert Van Tol (left) with Bob Dickerson, chairman of the NCRC board of directors, at NCRC 2018 Just Economy conference.
When Hubert moved from Memphis to Chicago, the front page of the Memphis Newspaper said ‘Hubert Van Tol is leaving town: Banks rejoice.’ Hubert is never given to hyperbole and in general, is a man of few words. But when he speaks, people listen.

- John Taylor, President and Founder, NCRC

Josh Silver (second from right), NCRC's Senior Advisor, poses in his “wedding suit to economic justice” alongside a panel of regulators after the panel “The Opportunities and Perils of Community Reinvestment Act Reform.” From left to right: Barbara Van Kerkhove, Buzz Roberts, Grovetta Gardineer, Josh Silver, and Michael Gaughan.
I'm wearing my wedding suit today because I am married to two things: my wife, and a commitment to economic justice in underserved community. Today we are here to discuss CRA reform, and there is a lot to talk about.

- Josh Silver, Senior Advisor, NCRC

This not a moment, it's a movement. We have been organizing and disrupting in a way this country hasn’t seen since Martin Luther King Jr.’s passing. We are coming together across racial, gender, and intergenerational lines to say enough is enough. Forward together not one step back.

- Stella Adams, Chief of Equity and Inclusion, NCRC

April 10

Day two of the Just Economy Conference kicked off with a keynote speech from Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, about the 50th anniversary of MLK’s assassination and what it means to further and strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act. It's hard to say if the highlight was the center stage debate between John Taylor, J. Phillip Thompson and Nancy Isenberg on necessary shifts for an intersectional #JustEconomy movement, or the fire pits at the chairman’s reception!

Carolyn Cool from Bank of the West reads opening pages of White Trash, after hearing from author and historian Nancy Isenberg.
The overdose rate has quadrupled since the [opioid] epidemic took off in the 90s, and still the treatment for this addiction does not exist in most counties in America. To treat addiction you need a holistic approach: treatment, housing, workforce development, healthcare and employment.

- Evan Behrle, Director of Addiction Treatment, Baltimore City Health Department

J. Phillip Thompson (left) discusses “what will bring us all together” on stage with Nancy Isenberg and John Taylor.
Desegregation is not the same as integration. Harlem is being desegregated; Brooklyn is being desegregated… Integration is about more than white people and black people living near each other. White people and black people lived near each other on plantations. We need something more.

- J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor, New York City

Desirée Venn Frederic, founding director of Combing Cotton Co. speaking at the Artists, Gentrification and Reinvestment session.
Artists deserve a living wage. We need to treat them not merely as tools but as members of the communities. They are shaping a just economy.

- Desirée Venn Frederic, Founding Director, Combing Cotton Co.

The typical American woman will lose over $400,000 in wages over a in lifetime due to the wage and gender gap. For women of color, that loss is closer to $1 million over a lifetime. But there are several policy solutions. We can strengthen existing Equal Employment laws. We can raise the minimum wage and eliminate the tip minimum wage, which makes workers relying on these tips less vulnerable to sexual harassment by customers.

- Maya Raghu, Director, Workplace Equality & Senior Counsel, National Women’s Law Center

Although the Parkland kids are creating an inclusive movement, the media is perpetuating a false narrative by ignoring black voices that contribute to the movement.

- Shireen Mitchell, Founder, Digital Sisters/Stop Online Violence Against Women

Today we are in a unique moment to reflect on the past and to mobilize for the future. Today, where we live still matters. Because where is inextricably linked to what is possible in this country. In this country we still practice justice by geography.

- Vanita Gupta, President and CEO, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

April 11

On April 11, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act on Capitol Hill by demanding Congress increase fairness in housing, business and banking. Sen. Jeff Merkley, Rep. Keith Ellison, and Rep. Al Green all joined our coalition to reflect on this important anniversary in our movement.

I entered my senator’s office and he was talking about economic opportunity. But I was there to make the conversation about economic justice.

- Martha Bozeman, Executive Director, Building Alabama Reinvestment

NCRC Reinvest New Orleans delegation walks to a congressional meeting.
Members of the Reinvest Alabama delegation debrief on their meeting with Sen. Shelby, R-Al.
The number one call we get at YWCA in Birmingham is for affordable housing. The list is so long it’s been closed for years, and still the dearth gets larger. Anything you can do to protect and expand funding for affordable housing is critical for us.

- Yolanda Sullivan, CEO, YWCA Central Alabama

Arden K. Blackwell (right) from the National Business League of Alabama addresses Sen. Doug Jones. From left to right: Wesley Mindingall from Foundation Capital, Elijah Davis from Urban Impact Inc. and Arden Blackwell.
I am sitting next to stewards of the last African American district in Birmingham. I want to thank Senator Doug Jones for getting extra funding for CDBG, however I want to make sure that specific resources are allocated for small business development as a means of community reinvestment in the African American Community. African Americans make up only 26% of the businesses in Alabama and we have to get to parity.

- Arden K. Blackwell, Executive Director, National Business League of Alabama

Beverly Brown Ruggia from New Jersey Citizen Action addresses Chad Maisel, Sen. Cory Booker's economic policy advisor.
We do not want that word modernization turned into relaxation. There is an innuendo in this political climate that consumer protections don’t matter.

- Bob Dickerson, Chairman, NCRC board of directors

Reinvest Oregon delegation meets with Sen. Jeff Merkley and staff.
When I am home Portland, I see people living under overpasses, laying out blankets on six feet of cement and pitching tents on small green patches. It reflects dramatic underinvestment in housing across our democratic republic.

- Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.

Rep. Al Green reflects on the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act.
I will not be long, but I will be strong. I want you to know that the civil rights act of 1968, while signed in ink, was written in blood. We are here today to honor the brave Americans who sacrificed their lives for the right to affordable housing.

- Rep. Al Green, D-Texas

Jesse Van Tol, the new CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition fires up the #JustEconomy Coalition.
Rep. Keith Ellison addresses NCRC’s Just Economy coalition.
Trickle down economics, it's tinkle down. The wealth gap is rising. The middle class is slipping away. We have to fight back against this.

- Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn.




Created by Jesse Meisenhelter and Xi Rotmil

Photos: Maria Bryk

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