Friday marked the start of the 44th annual Lawmakers Legislative Weekend for the Association of Black, Puerto Rican, and Asian members of the state assembly.
It is the first meeting in which the Speaker of the Assembly is a member of that caucus. Buffalo Assembly Member Crystal Peoples-Stokes says Speaker Carl Heastie’s position elevates the presence of the association’s members.
“I’m really excited about that. It speaks volumes to what we’ve been able to do as a caucus, and how far our society has come to be more inclusive in the sharing of power,” said Peoples-Stokes.
Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, was elected to replace long-time Speaker Sheldon Silver after Silver resigned in the face of corruption charges. Like his predecessor, Heastie is from the New York City area. Peoples-Stokes says he is no stranger to Buffalo, and that she will ensure Heastie knows the needs of Western New York as an upstate district.
This year’s theme for the weekend is “United We Stand.” Peoples-Stokes says the theme was chosen because social justice issues are contingent on how well labor works with communities of color, and progressive communities.
“It’s important that we begin to resonate that again because in some ways, some of us feel like we’re beginning to lose our connection to the base that can get us to where we need to be,” Peoples-Stokes said.
Peoples-Stokes says it is a time for discussions of issues important to people of color, along with scholarship fundraising for students in caucus districts. Guest speakers include scholar and columnist Bill Fletcher, actor Danny Glover, and Capital Magnet School Principal, Dr. Steve Perry.