Texas Sen. Royce West encourages involvement in communities of Texas at 2013 African American Legislative Summit

Tatiana Marceleno

During the 2013 African American Legislative Summit, Texas Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, gave the keynote speech at the Community Awards Breakfast — an event recognizing Texas leaders and former members of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus

West acknowledged the recipients of the Outstanding Texan Award and members of the audience as individuals who have the talent to create change in society.

“Before we leave here today, I hope that we can work together and say, ‘What is the common agenda that we will accomplish this year? How will we measure it to see exactly what we have done? How will we use these talents we were blessed with?’” West said in his speech. 

The TLBC hosted the Summit, which lasted from Sunday to Tuesday. The theme, “the building of our community starts with me,” was applied throughout panel discussions examining critical issues in African-American communities, and was present throughout the awards breakfast. The group recognized 21 Outstanding Texans and former members of the TLBC for their contributions to Texas communities.

West filled in last minute for the Rev. Al Sharpton, who was set to deliver the keynote speech before Monday’s weather resulted in a flight delay. Sharpton is a civil rights activist and the president of the National Action Network, a civil rights organization. Sharpton also hosts “PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton” on MSNBC.

West said it was an honor to be able to give the speech in Sharpton’s place.

“You can see I’m not Al Sharpton, and I’m not the chairperson or anything like that, but to be asked by my members to deliver the keynote speech, I felt honored,” West said.

Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, honored former TLBC members by sharing their contributions to Texas history and the impact they made to the state of Texas.

“We have a lot to look forward to and one of the greatest things that we can do is to keep adding to the history that we have,” Thompson said.

Breakfast attendee Marilyn Lee of Kileen said she appreciates the work done by current and prior members of the Texas Legislature and the TLBC because they have been diligent in their work for the people of Texas.

“They encourage us to go back and get involved, and to make things better for all of our young people,” Lee said.

Over the two days she attended the Summit, Lee said she has been inspired to walk her faith and serve her community by making herself more available to serve the public.

“I will go back to my community and become more involved in community service,” Lee said. “Today taught me that you have to come out of your comfort zone and use your God-given gift or skill to be a leader, because your purpose is to serve others.”

Published on February 27, 2013 as "Summit addresses black issues".