The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Coalition,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Sad Milestone: Research Shows Middle Class Is No Longer Majority in America

Posted on January 07, 2016 at 06:43 PM

In a milestone for the declining fortunes of lower to middle income Americans, the majority of people in America are no longer in the middle class, according to data published at the end of 2015 from the Pew Research Center. The Center based its findings on extensive analysis of data from the US Census Bureau and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

Affluent families in America now have 6.6 times the wealth of middle-income families, the biggest wealth gap in three decades, the nonpartisan research organization, the Pew Research Center reported.

According to the Pew Research Center, there were 120.8 million middle-income households in early 2015, compared with 121.3 million in lower-income or upper income households combined.

PLEASE RSVP FOR MAY 11-12, 2016 Economic Equality conference: The Economic Equality Coalition will hold a conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on May 11-12, 2016 to highlight the issues of economic inequality to the powers that be.

Key participants will be Members of Congress from both parties, the remaining viable Presidential campaigns as of the spring, and grassroots economic policy advocates from across the country.

Information on schedule, registration, and group hotel are below in this email.

Space is limited so RSVP as soon as you can to assure a place. RSVP by responding to this email at leepowell@delta.comcastbiz.net or calling us at (202) 360-6347. Registration information is below.

This is the first year since the Pew Research Center-a nonpartisan research institution–began tracking this data around 1970 that middle-income families were not the majority of Americans.

This trend in the division of Americans’ income has followed similar patterns for the last five years, indicating that the middle classes have not yet benefited from the economic recovery. Behind the decades-long shift is the increasing concentration of income and wealth among the affluent.

Pew analyzed extensive data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and reported that the share of adults living in the upper-income tier expanded more than lower-income households.The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press and other major media outlets publicized the findings.

Summary of Pew Center findings:

The percentage of adults living in middle-income households fell to about 50% in 2015 from 61% in 1971.

The overall share of the upper-income tier increased to 21% from 14% over that period.

The percentage of lower-income households increased to 29% from 25%.

“High-skilled workers are increasingly favored, and if you’re of low skill, lesser education, you’re very likely to be left behind,” said Rakesh Kochhar, an associate director for research at Pew, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Delta Grassroots Caucus and our national affiliate, the Economic Equality Coalition, will have a dialogue with the powers that be about the nation’s shrinking middle class and expanding lower-income population at the May 11-12, 2016 conference on Capitol Hill.

These issues are crucial in the 2016 presidential campaign and for both parties in Congress. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in January found that 47% of respondents considered reducing income inequality an absolute priority for the government to pursue this year.

The Pew report defined a typical middle-income household as one with three people that earned between $42,000 and $126,000 in 2014.

A lowest-income household of three made about $31,000 or less, and a lower-middle income household earned about $31,000 to $42,000 that year.

An upper-middle income household with three people made about $126,000 to $188,000 and a highest-income household lived on more than $188,000 in 2014.

The extreme ends of the income spectrum have grown the most. This year, 20% of American adults are in the very lowest income tier, up from 16% in 1971.

At the other extreme, 9% are in the absolute highest income tier, more than double the 4% share in 1971.

Among the demographic groups that stood out are people age 65 and older. This age group was the only one that had a smaller share in the lower-income tier in 2015 than in 1971, Pew found. That’s in part because more seniors are working, and Social Security checks are helping keep them afloat.

Last year, the median wealth of upper-income families in the U.S. ($639,400) was 6.6 times bigger than that of middle-income families ($96,500), up from 6.2 times in 2010. Upper-income families now have a median wealth level that is nearly 70 times that of lower-income families.

As the US economy has rebounded, the gulf between the wealthy and everyone else has widened.

Pew analyzed extensive findings from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, which is conducted every three years.

Wealth inequality has gotten worse during the economic recovery. Income inequality has risen for decades, as pay growth for middle-class households has stalled.

On the other hand, after-tax corporate profits have expanded to the highest level as a share of Gross Domestic Product since 1929.

Pew’s analysis emphasized that wealth inequality is growing along racial and ethnic lines. This is of course bad news for highly diverse regions such as the Greater Delta Region, the Southwest Border, and other similarly situated populations.

Pew’s analysis provdes insight into why America’s now-five-years-plus-economic expansion is taking so much time to be felt by Americans.

In fact, the recent drop in gasoline prices is a significant source of what limited improvement is being made by those other than upper income groups.

In another important economic report, the Wall Street Journal cited New York University economics professor Edward Wolff’s paper that there has been almost no change in median wealth from 2010 to 2013-the middle-class has essentially been left out.

Research by Wolff and other economists have demonstrated that many features of the recovery and the Federal Reserve’s stimulus policies have benefited the rich over others.

Much of America’s wealth gains are due to the stock market, which has jumped nearly 200% since its lowest point in 2009. Stocks are primarily owned by the affluent.

Making things worse, many middle-class Americans have been losing assets such as homes or 401(ks) from selling them off to pay down debts.

As a result, upper-income families in the U.S. have seen their wealth rise. Middle-class Americans have not.

Early Registration for the May 11-12, 2016 Economic Equality Coalition (EEC) Conference in Washington, DC

Early registration for the May 11-12, 2016 Economic Equality Coalition (EEC) conference in Washington, DC is $125 for those who have not paid their dues or $100 for those who have paid their dues.

Space is limited for the May 11-12, 2016 conference, so to be assured of a place you will want to register soon.

To register for May 11-12, 2016 EEC conference, please send the $125 registration fees (or $100 for those who have paid their annual dues-

Please make out the check to Delta Caucus with a note “Registration for May 11-12 EEC” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

You register by paying the registration fees. To reduce unnecessary paperwork we do not use registration forms.

Early registration deadline is April 18, 2016. After that date registration fees go up to $150.

Annual membership dues are mailed to the Delta Caucus address in the amounts of $25, $50 or $100. Dues are required for conference attendees.

$25 is the only required amount. This is suggested for smaller organizations or individuals.

$50 dues are suggested for medium-sized organizations.

$100 dues are suggested for larger foundations, corporations, banks, universities or those who wish to contribute a larger amount.

Lee Powell is a key organizer and Co-Chairman of the Economic Equality Coalition steering committee and is Executive Director of the Delta Caucus. Again, the vast eight-state Greater Delta Region is a key partner of the national Economic Equality Coalition.

We will strengthen our collective voices if we join together with other major regions in urging the leading Presidential campaigns and Members of Congress from both parties to take much stronger action in fighting poverty, hunger and economic inequality across the country.

Key issues will include job creation at livable wages, health care for under-served populations, hunger and nutrition, affordable housing, transportation, broadband and other infrastructure investments to create job and improve our deteriorating infrastructure, renewable energy/energy efficiency, developing a well-trained and educated workforce, diversity and civil rights, and other vital initiatives for improving equality and opportunity.

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Annual Membership Dues for 2016; & Early Registration for May 11-12 Economic Equality Event

Posted on December 10, 2015 at 04:46 PM

We would like to ask for annual membership dues for the Delta Grassroots Caucus, which is one of the key partners for the national Economic Equality Coalition (EEC) conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on May 11-12, 2016.

Key participants will include the major Presidential campaigns from both parties as of the spring, 2016, Members of Congress, and economic and community development organizations from across the country.

The annual membership dues cover the 12-month period from now, December, 2015, to December 1 of 2016 in the quite modest amounts of $25 for all our partners, and a request of $50 or $100 from larger organizations or individuals wishing to contribute more. Information on the address to send the check is below in this email.

The annual membership dues are in the range of $25, $50 or $100. Dues are requested from those organizations and individuals who are supportive of our advocacy work in favor of economic equality, job creation, health care for underserved areas, hunger and nutrition, infrastructure investments in transportation, housing and broadband, renewable energy, education and workforce development, and other key issues for the major economically distressed populations of the country.

The only requirement is for $25, but for larger organizations or those who want to contribute more the $50 and $100 levels are very helpful.

Some organizations and leaders are generous enough to contribute up to $250, but again the only requirement we are asking for is $25 each.

Suggested amounts for annual membership dues:

Individuals and small organizations: $25

Medium-sized organizations such as mid-sized Chambers of Commerce, nonprofits, businesses: $50

Larger foundations, universities, corporations, or those who want to make a larger donation: $100

Please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” with a note “For Dues” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS NEWSLETTER:

  1. ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP DUES FOR 2016
  2. EARLY REGISTRATION FEES FOR MAY 11-12, 2016 ECONOMIC EQUALITY COALITION (EEC) IN WASHINGTON, DC
  3. GROUP HOTEL FOR MAY 11-12 EEC IN WASHINGTON, DC
  4. EEC STEERING COMMITTEE PARTNERS
  5. LATEST DRAFT OF AGENDA FOR JANUARY 29-30, 2016 CONFERENCE IN WASHINGTON DC-“NATIONAL CONVERSATION ON URBAN PEACE AND RECONCILIATION”-(this event is led by the Public Policy 4 Kids organization and supported by the EEC as one of the partners)

The key regions and demographic groups we are focusing on in the EEC are the Greater Delta region from Missouri and Illinois to New Orleans and east to the Alabama Black Belt, Appalachia, the Southwest Border, Iowa and the Midwest, Native Americans, and economically distressed urban neighborhoods in Washington, DC, New York, St. Louis/Ferguson, Missouri, Memphis, and New Orleans.

For conferences in 2016 we are placing a much larger focus on national activism in our nation’s capital with Congress, representatives of the major Presidential campaigns of both parties, and grassroots economic policy advocates from across the country. We will amplify our voices to the national powers that be by joining forces with the other major similarly situated regions.

There will be a series of related events for 2016, including:

–the May 11-12 2016 conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC;

–a smaller-scale meeting (probably a news conference) for the summer of 2016 (probably at the State Capitol);

–and likely another nationally oriented conference in the Washington, DC area in northern Virginia, that will also include representatives from the major Presidential campaigns, held in the key swing state of Virginia in October, 2016. This is bipartisan and we want to hear from both parties as well as Independents.

–The EEC is one of the partners supporting the National Conversation on Urban Peace and Reconciliation on Jan. 29, 30, 2016 in Washington, DC at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church near the White House. This will focus on issues regarding young adults and children, economic equality, civil rights and diversity, women’s issues, gun violence and other issues.

The latest draft of the agenda for the Jan. 29-30, 2016 was sent to us by Melissa Cloud, the key organizer for that conference. She is founder and program director of Public Policy 4Kids, based in the Washington, DC area and currently having active programs regarding childhood nutrition in Florida. She is originally from Louisiana.

Among the speakers for the Jan. 29-30, 2016 conference from the Greater Delta and Alabama region are included Delta Caucus leaders Lee Powell from Arkansas and Wilson Golden, Mississippi native, former senior official at US Dept. of Transportation in Washington, DC, and Member of the Board of the University of Mississippi William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation; and the keynote speaker is Andrea Taylor, CEO of the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham.

1. Annual membership dues for $25, $50 and $100 for the 12-month period from December, 2015 to December, 2016:

We now have 800 organizations, grassroots advocates and individuals in our data base. So if everyone contributes $25 and some contribute $50 or $100 it will add up to a substantial amount.

Large numbers of small contributions add up to a substantial amount because we have so many partners not just in the Greater Delta Region but all over the country now. Please contribute at least the minimum amount.

Those who contribute annual dues will receive a reduction for the two major conferences in the Washington, DC area for May 11-12, 2016 and the northern Virginia conference in the Washington, DC area across the Potomac from the Capitol in October, 2016 from the usual $125 to $100 each.

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Childhood Nutrition, Job Creation Urged at EEC/Delta News Event, Dec. 2 in Washington, DC

Posted on December 03, 2015 at 02:04 PM

The Delta Caucus and our national affiliate, the Economic Equality Coalition, urged the major Presidential campaigns and Members of Congress to support key bipartisan bills on childhood nutrition, job creation, and opening trade to Cuba to expand exports at a Dec. 2 news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Key speakers were Members of Congress and national nutrition and economic equality organizations.

Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) held a dialogue on key legislative issues with senior executives from national nutrition and economic policy organizations including Feeding America, the Delta Grassroots Caucus, the Congressional Hunger Center, the Housing Assistance Council, Bread for the City, DC Central Kitchen.

Lee Powell and Kay Goss hosted the event for the Economic Equality Coalition and the Delta Caucus.

May 11-12, 2016 national Economic Equality Coalition conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC: The group announced that our economic policy advocates across the country, representatives from the major Presidential campaigns and Members of Congress from both parties will hold a national Economic Equality Coalition conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on May 11-12, 2016.

Childhood Nutrition Re-Authorization: “Six years after the Great Recession officially ended, about one in five children across the country still lack full-time access to affordable, nutritious food. We need full funding for the Childhood Nutrition Re-Authorization (CNR) bill for vital programs like school lunch, breakfast, summer meals, after-school and WIC,” said Lee Powell, EEC steering committee and Delta Caucus Director. “A strong CNR would be a major step in attacking this major problem.”

The grassroots advocates from across the country believe the recovery has been far too slow for economically distressed regions of the country, and hunger and poverty levels are still much too high. In one representative comment, Rep. Mark McElroy from southeast Arkansas informed us that “The recovery sure ain’t arrived for us in our neck of the woods yet, because hunger and poverty are way too high here today.”

Summer meals programs need to be expanded and streamlined, and on that subject Sen. Boozman has sponsored beneficial legislation for a summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card for $30 a month per child, as well as flexibility for states regarding centralized feeding sites, especially in rural areas.

While the national figures of one in five children being food insecure are disturbing, in distressed areas the situation is far worse: in USDA data for all families (not just children) in areas suffering from unusual economic inequality, Mississippi has the highest food insecurity at 22%, Arkansas is the second worst at 19.9%, Texas is at 17.2% and Ohio at 16.9%.

Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) issued a statement supporting the EEC efforts for childhood nutrition, saying “Every child in America deserves to grow up free from hunger and with access to opportunities like a quality education and safe communities, and I want to thank the Economic Equality Coalition and the Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus for continuing to push these critical issues to the forefront of Congress’s attention.”

Speakers included Lee Powell, Kay Goss and:

–Feeding America’s senior policy analyst, Robert Campbell;

–Shannon Maynard, Executive Director of the Congressional Hunger Center;

–Moises Loza, Executive Director of the national Housing Assistance Council;

–CEO Micheal Curtin, DC Central Kitchen;

–CEO George A. Jones of Bread for the City.

Robert Campbell, senior policy analyst for Feeding America, said Boozman is “really addressing the major gaps in summer feeding [programs],” and his legislation would have “a huge impact.” Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks, will be able to help more people if Boozman succeeds, Campbell said. “These … new provisions would allow us to get into those areas that are not served, that are underserved, where it’s so hard for families to have access.” Campbell was one of the key speakers and was quoted in an article by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about the Dec. 2 news conference.

Under current federal rules, children usually have to travel to central locations to get their meals. and eat them before leaving. Schools are feeding centers, and consequently it’s easy to give free breakfasts and lunches when during the school year. But at other times many children can’t get the meals because they have no transportation. Sen. Boozman’s Senate Bill 1966 would allow greater flexibility. A feeding program, for example, could offer “takeout” meals or deliver them to the children’s homes.

The EEC is a group of economic policy advocates in regions suffering from economic inequality, like the Delta, Appalachia, Midwest, Southwest Border, and inner cities in Washington, DC, Baltimore, St. Louis/Ferguson (MO), Memphis, and New Orleans.

Expanding trade to Cuba: Rep. Crawford, Rep. Loebsack, and Sen. Boozman support bills to open farm trade to Cuba, a $2 billion market, expanding rice, poultry, wheat and other farm exports as well as health care and automotive products that would generate economic progress across the country. The embargo failed for 50 years, and it’s time for a change.

Job creation by infrastructure investments in transportation and housing: The highway bill is a golden opportunity to create jobs and improve our deteriorating infrastructure. The EEC urges quick passage of this long-delayed legislation.

We urge passage of tourism initiatives by legislation like the bill championed by Rep. Chabot, Rep. Crawford and Sen. Boozman to allow the historic steamboat the Delta Queen to resume her travels on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers through much of the Midwest, Delta and Appalachia would save a national historic icon, generate tourist dollars for the economy, and inform people about the great American legacy of the Mark Twain era of steamboating.

Cornel Martin, president of Delta Queen Steamboat Company in New Orleans, spoke on behalf of his efforts to get the famous river boat traveling again. He announced plans to make all the necessary renovations and updates needed to get the boat traveling to places from New Orleans and Natchez, Vicksburg, Helena-West Helena, Pine Bluff, Little Rock, Memphis, Cape Girardeau, St. Louis, Davenport, Iowa, and east to Illinois, Indiana, Cincinnati, Ohio and West Virginia.

“Many on Capitol Hill are saying bipartisanship is making a comeback lately; if so they can prove it by passing Childhood Nutrition Re-Authorization, jobs/infrastructure, tourism and trade to Cuba bills. That would be real action and not just political rhetoric,” Powell said.

Economic Equality news conference, Dec. 2 on Capitol Hill with Members of Congress Key Nonprofits

Posted on December 01, 2015 at 11:22 PM

The Delta Grassroots Caucus and our national affiliate, the Economic Equality Coalition, urged the major Presidential campaigns and Members of Congress to support key bipartisan bills on childhood nutrition, job creation, and opening trade to Cuba to expand exports, saying the recovery is still far too slow and poverty far too high for economically distressed populations across the country.

In an Economic Equality news conference on Capitol Hill at the historic Lutheran Church of the Reformation, EEC senior partners held a dialogue with key Members of Congress including Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) and national nutrition and economic policy organizations Feeding America, the Congressional Hunger Center, Bread for the City, DC Central Kitchen, and the national Housing Assistance Council.

“Six years after the Great Recession officially ended, about one in five children across the country still lack full-time access to affordable, nutritious food. We need full funding for the Childhood Nutrition Re-Authorization (CNR) bill for vital programs like school lunch, breakfast, summer meals, after-school and WIC,” said Lee Powell, EEC steering committee and Delta Caucus Director. “A strong CNR would be a major step in attacking this major problem.”

“The recovery sure ain’t arrived for us in our neck of the woods yet, because hunger and poverty are way too high here today,” said state Rep. Mark McElroy in a comment about southeast Arkansas in the Delta region.

Summer meals programs need to be expanded and streamlined, and on that subject Sen. Boozman has sponsored beneficial legislation for a summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card for $30 a month per child, as well as flexibility for states regarding centralized feeding sites, especially in rural areas.

While the national figures of one in five children being food insecure are disturbing, in distressed areas the situation is far worse: in USDA data for all families (not just children) in areas suffering from unusual economic inequality, Mississippi has the highest food insecurity at 22%, Arkansas is the second worst at 19.9%, Texas is at 17.2% and Ohio at 16.9%.

Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) issued a statement supporting the EEC efforts for childhood nutrition, saying “Every child in America deserves to grow up free from hunger and with access to opportunities like a quality education and safe communities, and I want to thank the Economic Equality Coalition and the Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus for continuing to push these critical issues to the forefront of Congress’s attention.”

The EEC is a group of economic policy advocates in regions suffering from economic inequality, like the Delta, Appalachia, Midwest, Southwest Border, and inner cities in Washington, DC, St. Louis/Ferguson (MO) and New Orleans.

Expanding trade to Cuba: Rep. Crawford, Rep. Loebsack, and Sen. Boozman support bills to open farm trade to Cuba, a $2 billion market, expanding rice, poultry, wheat and other farm exports as well as health care and automotive products that would generate economic progress across the country. The embargo failed for 50 years, and it’s time for a change.

Job creation by infrastructure investments in transportation and housing: The highway bill is a golden opportunity to create jobs and improve our deteriorating infrastructure. The EEC urges quick passage of this long-delayed legislation.

We urge passage of tourism initiatives by legislation like the bill championed by Rep. Chabot, Rep. Crawford and Sen. Boozman to allow the historic steamboat the Delta Queen to resume her travels on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers through much of the Midwest, Delta and Appalachia.

Passage would save a national historic icon, generate tourist dollars for the economy, and inform people about the great American legacy of the Mark Twain era of steamboating.

“Many on Capitol Hill are saying bipartisanship is making a comeback lately; if so they can prove it by passing CNR, jobs/infrastructure, tourism and trade to Cuba bills. That would be real action and not talk,” Powell said.

Speakers in addition to the Members of Congress included:

Kay Goss, Associate Director of FEMA for President Clinton, noted author and educator, who recently completed an extended trip to Cuba and gave us up to date observations about conditions in that country.

Robert Campbell, Feeding America’s senior policy analyst on Childhood Nutrition.

Shannon Maynard, Executive Director of the Congressional Hunger Center.

CEO George A. Jones of Bread for the City, a nationally recognized nonprofit in the field of nutrition and economic development.

CEO Michael Curtin of the DC Central Kitchen, a nationally recognized nonprofit in the fields of nutrition and job training/creation.

Economic Equality Coalition Conference Set for May 11-12, 2016 in Washington, DC

Posted on November 16, 2015 at 01:55 PM

The Delta Grassroots Caucus is one of the key partners for the national Economic Equality Coalition conference, which we are announcing is set for Washington, DC on May 11-12, 2016.

Key participants will include the major Presidential campaigns, Members of Congress, and economic and community development organizations from across the country.

The Economic Equality Coalition (EEC) focuses on those regions of the country who have experienced great economic inequality, including the Greater Delta Region, Appalachia, the Southwest Border, economically distressed areas in the Midwest, Native Americans, and some urban areas such as St. Louis/Ferguson, Missouri, parts of New York, Washington, DC and Baltimore, Memphis and New Orleans.

We will strengthen our collective voices if we join together with other major regions in urging the leading Presidential campaigns and Members of Congress from both parties to take much stronger action in fighting poverty, hunger and economic inequality across the country.

Key issues will include job creation at livable wages, health care for under-served populations, hunger and nutrition, affordable housing, transportation, broadband and other infrastructure investments to create job and improve our deteriorating infrastructure, renewable energy/energy efficiency, developing a well-trained and educated workforce, diversity and civil rights, and other vital initiatives for improving equality and opportunity.

By May 11-12, 2016, the number of Presidential candidates will have been greatly reduced and we will have a much clearer idea of who the likely nominees will be, as opposed to the current field of 17 or 18 candidates. We will ask high-level representatives from the leading campaigns to have a dialogue with us about what their candidate would do to reverse the alarming trend toward economic inequality in our country.

The conference will include sessions at the House, Senate, and a session at the historic Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill for a forum for Presidential campaigns.

The Capitol Hill meeting rooms in the House and Senate seat approximately 100 people, who will be influential economic policy advocates from across the country. The closing session will likely be at the sanctuary of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill a block from the US Supreme Court.

The collaborative approach among the major economically distressed populations is broadly similar to the Clinton administration’s bipartisan New Markets Initiative, which included Appalachia, the Delta, Southwest Border, Midwest, Native Americans, and economically distressed inner city neighborhoods.

There should be a vital national priority to eliminate the situation where these populations lag far behind the rest of America in opportunity and prosperity.

Key participants will be high-level speakers for the major Presidential campaigns from both parties, Members of Congress, and distinguished experts on vital issues related to economic equality, hunger, poverty and racial justice across the country.

The scope of this conference will be much broader-essentially national–than Delta regional events in the past, although the Delta Grassroots Caucus will be one of the key organizers. Leaders from the other regions agreed with the Delta Caucus that we can amplify our voices to the national powers that be by joining forces among those regions that have historically lagged far behind in America’s prosperity.

You register by sending in the $125 registration fees. Those who have paid their annual membership dues for 2016 ($25 for individuals or smaller organizations, $50 or $100 for larger organizations)have their fees reduced to $100.

Again, those who have paid their annual dues have the registration fees reduced to $100. Otherwise registration fees are $125 each.

REGISTRATION:

You register by sending in the registration fees. They are $125 each, or $100 each for those who have paid annual membership dues for the period from November, 2015 through December, 2016.

Please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

GROUP HOTEL–OPTIONAL

We have a reduced group rate at the Radisson at Reagan National Airport, which is relatively close to Capitol Hill and to Reagan airport, for Wednesday, May 11, 2016.

To get the reduced group rate of $189, please call the Radisson at (703) 920-8600 and say you are with the Economic Equality Coalition and Delta Coalition group.

The hotel’s full address is Radisson Hotel Reagan National Airport, 2020 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA 22202.

Most people will only need to stay at the hotel one night, because they check in on Wednesday May 11 in early to mid-afternoon before the opening session, and then check out the next morning, and then go to the session that ends Thursday afternoon, May 12.

We also have a smaller number of rooms for Thursday May 12 for those planning to stay two nights.

May 11-12 is one of the busiest times of year in Washington, DC, so $189 is an excellent rate for a good, well located hotel for a spring-time conference in our nation’s capital.

The reservations deadline is April 18, 2016. If you miss this deadline there will probably not be any other rooms available at all at such a busy time at the hotel, and you will definitely not be able to get the reduced group rate.

This is optional and it is perfectly fine for anyone who prefers to stay at another location.

There are benefits, however, to having a substantial group staying together at one location. We will go in groups of taxi cabs to the sessions on May 11 and May 12.

We are working on the exact schedule, but it will likely begin late in the afternoon at about 4:30 p.m. until 7:45 p.m. at a US House of Representatives location on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, May 11.

Then the next session will begin at about 8:30 a.m. at a US Senate location until about 11 a.m.

Then we will go for the luncheon and the afternoon session at the historic Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill from noon to about 3:45 p.m. on Thursday, May 12.

This will be the first time in four years that the Delta Grassroots Caucus and our partners have participated in a major conference in Washington, DC. We convened for our fall conference the last three years in Memphis, Tennessee, West Memphis and Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, to meet in those heartland Delta communities, but also due to a widespread belief that with the sluggish economy and the partisan gridlock in Washington, DC, it was then not worthwhile to take an expensive, time-consuming trip to DC.

The situation is changing, first of all because the Presidential election season has heightened interest in activism at the national level. The next opportunity for major economic change in the Greater Delta Region and across the USA will be with the next President and Congress, and we need to weigh in with them throughout the electoral cycle.

We are also seeing a major resurgence of interest in issues related to economic inequality, hunger, poverty and racial justice, which is very important for our diverse group that includes many African Americans, Hispanics, women and people from all racial, gender and geographic backgrounds.

Moreover, while the Delta and the other distressed regions that will be highlighted at this conference have not participated equally in the recovery from the recession, we are seeing at least some improvement in the economy in some areas. This is helpful to many of our partners’ budgets, enabling somewhat more funding for traveling to an event on Capitol Hill than in recent years.

Focus has to be both rural and urban: The national powers that be in Presidential campaigns, *Members of Congress and national economic development organizations take an approach to economic issues covering the entire country. Many issues regarding economic inequality are quite similar regardless of which region people live in.

Even in the largely small-town and rural Greater Delta Region, we have always viewed the impoverished neighborhoods in New Orleans, Memphis, Little Rock, Jackson and our other urban areas as part and parcel of our mission area, although we know that the worst poverty continues to be in the many small towns and rural areas across the region of eight states and 10 million people. The focus has to be rural and urban, and while there are differences, populations suffering from economic inequality have many common issues and challenges across the country.

Key participants and/or organizers thus far for the Economic Equality Coalition conference on Capitol Hill for May 11-12, 2015 on Capitol Hill include:

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