National Black Caucus of Elected officials convene in the Magic City

By The Times staff

More than 100 city leaders from around the U.S. are in Birmingham and Bessemer this week for the National Black Caucus of Local Officials (NBC-LEO) conference.

The conference — built around the theme, “Memorialize The Past, Realize The Present and Shape The Future” – will include a focus on police-community relations, racial equity and economic mobility.

NBC-LEO is connected with The National League of Cities (NLC).

“We have enjoyed a great relationship with the National League of Cities and [NLC Chief Executive Officer] Clarence E. Anthony and are excited to have this meeting in the city,” said Birmingham Mayor William Bell. “The more we host these kinds of events, the more recognition the city gets for future events.”

Birmingham City Council President Johnathan Austin said the gathering gives the city an opportunity to “network with other elected officials from across the country and share ideas with them about what has been successful here in Birmingham and . . . learn from their successes.”

Drawing the NBC-LEO convention, the National Baptist Deacons Convention, which is currently underway in the city, are results of the investment the city has made to make the area more appealing, Austin said.

“Birmingham is quickly becoming a place where people can hold their conventions,” he said. “They are seeking us out now rather than us seeking them out.”

Speakers at NBC-LEO will discuss a broad range of topics, including: city best practices, poverty alleviation, youth development and uplifting the black community.

NLC President Matt Zone, a councilmember from Cleveland, will host a panel on creating economic mobility in cities and a panel on police-community relations featuring African American city leaders.

Other conference participants include Jesse Matthews, council president, Bessemer; Quinton Ross, Alabama State Senator, Cleophus King, councilmember, Bessemer, Bakari Sellers, CNN contributor and former state senator, South Carolina and Hanifa Shabazz, council president, Wilmington, Delaware, president of NBC-LEO.