Black leaders meet in issues symposium

July 21, 2010 12:32:23 PM PDT
Some African-American and civil rights leaders met during a symposium at Chicago State University Saturday, urging Pres. Barack Obama to address the needs and concerns of black people.The gathering and panel discussion was organized by television and radio host Tavis Smiley and will be televised on C-SPAN.

Among those taking part were Rev. Jesse Jackson of the RainbowPUSH Coalition, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and Princeton University Prof. Cornell West.

The group discussed such matters as education, the economy and importance of the 'black agenda' to U.S. political parties.

Audience members also had the opportunity to ask questions.

Moderator Tavis Smiley spoke about Pres. Barack Obama and said if he is going to be a 'transformational' president these issues had to be raised.

"We love Barack Obama. We want him to be a great president. We believe he can be a great president, but great presidents aren't born, they are made. They have to be pushed into their greatness. They are pushed into their greatness when we hold them accountable," Smiley said.

Smiley says he thinks the conversation's "time has come in black America."

Former Chicago Ald. Dorothy Tillman said she hoped Saturday's event shows young people its okay to mobilize and organize when they feel something is wrong.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)