APRI Celebrating 50 Years, Held Annual Conference In Savannah

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

It's a big year for an organization founded decades ago by civil rights leaders, who fought for workers' rights and civil rights all across America.

The A. Philip Randolph Institute is celebrating 50 years of creating change, and right now the non-profit is holding its annual conference in Savannah at the Riverfront Marriott. And, of course, they are talking about similar struggles many Americans are still facing.

Opening night talks included a back and forth panel discussion between civil rights-era leaders and millennials, and a speech from keynote speaker Marilyn Mosby.

"Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby, we are so proud of you," announced the emcee as Mosby entered the room.

To help kick this year's annual A. Philip Randolph Institute conference, was one of the youngest people ever elected to the office of state's attorney in a major city.

Mosby spoke about the struggles her city of Baltimore is facing, one of which is the fact that more than 200 people have been shot to death this year already, and more than 80 percent of those victims are black.

"But what isn't reported in the headlines, is the median household income of white residents in Baltimore is more than twice that of blacks. The unemployment rate for young, black men between 20 and 24 is more than twice as high as that of whites," Mosby said.

APRI's President Clayola Brown said those economic disparities resonate with communities nation-wide, including here in Savannah, which is one reason they picked the Hostess City for this year's conference.

Brown said, "Being located in Georgia, there is some frustration about what the officials that represent the folks from Georgia are not doing to bring about the change that many of our young people are seeking for themselves. We were told stay good, stay out of trouble, do the right thing and a good job was going to be there for you. America's promise for that has not been kept, and it is still not being kept."

Brown explained one purpose for Wednesday night's panel discussion between generational leaders, young and old, was to show that through strife and struggle and the frustrations that come with, the goals are still the same.

"We need institutions like this, in large part, to help us to learn how to channel, direct and re-focus that rage," said Biko Gray, an APRI panelist.

Brown said APRI has extended an open invitation to area students to come to any of the general sessions over the rest of the week.

The conference ends Sunday.


Copyright 2015 WTOC. All rights reserved.