State NAACP holds annual Legislative Day at Capitol

By Antonio Ray Harvey 

Contributing Writer

SACRAMENTO — The California-Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP hosted its annual Legislative Day at the State Capitol May 20.

The day of activities is organized to inspire members to participate in the political process at the state level.

“NAACP CA-HI Day at the Capitol provides a platform for our branch members and youth leaders across California to partake in dynamic, collaborative sessions and dialogues with our state legislators who directly impact policy impacting communities of color,” said Rick Callender, president of the NAACP Cal-Hi State Conference.

NAACP members attending the day-long event came from more than 50 branches all over the state, including areas of the state with the highest Black populations: Los Angeles, Oakland, San Bernardino, Stockton, San Jose, San Diego, San Francisco and Stockton.

Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Gardena, spoke on behalf of the California Legislative Black Caucus during the morning session. He explained the importance of the oldest civil rights organization, how it is essential to the Black community and its effect on the legislative process.

“Let me just simply say that I appreciate each and every one of you because America would not be America if it wasn’t for the NAACP,” Gipson said. “I am grateful for the NAACP. Though there are only 12 members of the California Legislative Black Caucus, we would not be where we are today if it weren’t for you.”

The NAACP Cal-Hi State Conference advocates for legislative and policy reforms in areas critical to improving the lives of African Americans and all people who have been historically marginalized or underserved during legislative proceedings.

Conference representatives discussed six reparations and environmental justice priority bills it supports this legislative season before the attendees visited the State Capitol in the afternoon to engage lawmakers.

The six bills are: Assembly Bill 1827, Low-Water User Protection Act; AB 3089, Formal Apology for Chattel Slavery; Senate Bill 1050, Racially Motivated Eminent Domain; SB 1403, California American Freedmen Affairs Agency; AB 1567, Climate Resilience Bond Bills; and SB 867, a measure that proposes funding projects that reduce fire risk and protects wetlands, waterways, coastal resources and fish and wildlife populations.

Teneicia Herring, government relations specialist for the NAACP, and Carolyn Veal Hunter, the political action chairperson, provided an overview of each bill, detailed how a bill becomes law and explained the role of a lobbyists.

California Legislative Black Caucus members Assemblymen Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles, and Isaac Bryan, D-Culver City, served as guest speakers at the orientation held at the Sheraton Hotel. After that, Callender led the large group, marching three blocks to the State Capitol and nearby Swing Space.

The spacious Capitol Annex Swing Space is a temporary home for legislators and staff while the 73-year-old State Capitol undergoes a $1.2 billion facelift. It is located at 1021 O Street in Sacramento.

“We made it where we were going to have an impact,” Callender said of members of the NAACP meeting with lawmakers. “We made sure that they understand what is important to us.”

Calendar, NAACP Second Vice President Zephanii Smith-Eisenstat, and State Director Lujuana Bivens accompanied the NAACP members to the Swing Space to meet and discuss bills with legislators and legislative staff.

“This (was) a jammed-packed week for the legislators as they were processing bills (in the Assembly and Senate),” Herring said. “The fact that they were taking their time to meet with us, we asked everyone to be respectful of their time.”

The NAACP Cal-Hi State Conference will hold its 12th annual Legacy Hall of Fame celebration honoring its 2024 inductees, civil rights icon Rev. Amos C. Brown and film actor Danny Glover, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. June 10 at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Sacramento.

Antonio Ray Harvey is a reporter for California Black Media.

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