On Sept. 15 and 16, Cong. Danny Davis (D-7th) will host his 7th annual State of the District community event at Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Van Buren. The event will begin Friday afternoon at 5.
Resource booths will be available in the college’s auditorium, which will allow serve as place for Davis to speak to constituents about their concerns.
“The Congressman will review legislation on his involvement with the Second Chance Act, Treatment on Demand and Older Americans Act, just to name a few,” said Ira Cohen, director of Communications for Congressman Davis.
Cohen said there will be nearly 200 vendors in attendance, and representatives from each of Davis’ more than 30 advisory councils.
“There will be a health fair offering free blood pressure or HIV screening. There will be awards given out to individuals who’ve made a significant lifetime impact in the community. I know that radio personality Elroy Smith will be honored,” Cohen said. “It will just be a wealth of information for community residents to gather.”
Cheryle Jackson, the recently appointed president of the Chicago Urban League, will deliver the keynote address for the event. Her predecessor at the league, James Compton, is also scheduled to attend the event.
Jackson will speaking about, among other topics, the absence of black women in leadership roles in Chicago, her time as Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s deputy chief of staff for communications, and her predecessor James Compton.
Jackson’s speech and appearance coincides with one of the event’s main themes this year, which is giving women more of a voice in the political process.
To that end, Tumia Romero, director of public policy and programs for Congressman Davis, has organized a women’s symposium for the event. The symposium will take place days within a specified booth during the event to allow women to speak about whatever policy concerns they may have.
“I originally wanted to set up a panel of speakers and have the panel lead the symposium, but I thought that would not allow the constituents the opportunity to lead the conversations and discussions, and ultimately it is about them,” said Romero.
Davis will also use the event to highlight some of the legislation he has sponsored or cosponsored. The Second Chance Act, for example, would allow for federal programs to be established that relates to the reentry of offenders back into the community.
Davis said the bill has passed through the House Judiciary Committee and is now awaiting passage in the U.S. Senate.
“All signs are pointing towards a likelihood of it passing in the Senate,” said Davis. “Both Democrats and Republicans seem to be very much for the bill.”
Davis also wants to speak about the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act. Enacted in 1965, the law authorized grants to states for community planning and services programs, as well as for research, demonstration and training projects in the field of aging.
Later amendments allowed the act to provide services and resources to elder community residents age 65 and over.
The act has recently been amended again to address the growth in grandparent parents who need these resources before they reach 65.
“Now, for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, they can receive resources at 60 as opposed to 65,” said Davis. “There are far too many grandparents raising their grandchildren in our community now. We want to provide them as easy a transition as possible because they have to look after their own concerns as well.”
On the subject of grandparents raising children, Davis wants to introduce a bill that will allow grandparents financial assistance, likened to foster parenting, if they are raising their grandchildren.
“It is not generally seen in the same way because people argue that they are related,” Davis said. “However, they still have the same financial concerns, and concerns about their own health, and deserve to receive assistance for their taking on the parenting role – a role they probably felt was over once their children moved out.”
The 7th annual State of the District event is from 5-9 p.m. on Friday and from 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday.