Georgia Legislative Black Caucus held their annual Leadership Conference in Savannah at the DeSoto Hilton – Savannah last weekend, August 10-12, 2017. The theme was “One Georgia, One Vision, One Future.” This event was hosted by Senator Lester Jackson, III, Chairman; Representative Sandra Scott, Vice Chairman and Justin Tanner, Executive Director.
On Friday, August 11th, during the Calvin Smyre Economic Empowerment Luncheon the Caucus honored State Representative Calvin Smyre with the Lifetime Achievement Award. His career path has taken him from being a community organizer and director of “War on Poverty” program in Columbus to his current position as Executive Vice President, Corporate External Affairs, Synovus Financial Corp. (Retired).
Smyre was elected at the age of 27 and is now the “Dean” of the Georgia General Assembly. As a 43 year legislative veteran, he serves on the most important panels of the House: Appropriations, Rules and Higher Education.
Rep. Smyre has a distinguished legislative record which includes authoring the legislation making Dr. King’s birthday a state holiday. He was also instrumental and co-sponsor of the historic legislation creating a new Georgia State Flag and the HOPE Scholarship Program.
Cassius F. Butts was the keynote speaker for the Luncheon. He stimulated the audience with his testimony of being mentored by the late Hon. Mayor Maynard Jackson. Mr. Butts is the former Regional Administrator for the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) appointed by President Barack Obama in 2011. He previously served as a Presidential Management Fellow under the George W. Bush Administration within the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD).
Tim Mackey, President of the International Longshoremen Association, Local 1414 who was a major sponsor of the luncheon, introduced Mr. Butts as the keynote speaker. Mr. Mackey informed the attendees that the Port of Savannah is the 2nd largest port on the east coast. They are the second source of income for the state of Georgia behind the Atlanta Jackson-Hartford Airport. The Port of Savannah is the number one single-operating port in the United States.
Conference highlights included a Town Hall dialogue on Poverty, Economic Empowerment, Education and Healthcare and a Prayer Breakfast featuring Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, Presiding Prelate of the Sixth District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
This event brings together both legislative issues and business leaders for two days to talk about upcoming legislation and the needs of Georgia’s citizens.