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July 15–20Washington Convention Center

The Industry

civil rights and social progress

The Attendees

8,000 community activists, lawyers, educators, and everyday folks, plus corporate reps courting all of the above

The Issues

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Unhealthy Disparities: African-Americans account for 13 percent of the U.S. population but 50 percent of HIV/AIDS cases. Attendees watching the documentary Faces learned that prisons, homophobic churches, social stigmas, and the “down low” phenomenon have exacerbated HIV in the black community. On the expo floor, free HIV testing drew a steady crowd.

Litigation Deliberations: At a session on police-misconduct lawsuits, the presenter suggested that a cost-benefit analysis be done before proceeding with a brutality claim. For example: If your client is serving four life terms, don’t expect to recover much in the way of future earnings.

Voting With Your Wallet: The organization’s Economic Reciprocity Report Card grades big businesses on use of minority-owned suppliers and pension-management firms, using a “consequence system” to encourage consumers to “make informed choices.” Underachievers include Target, which earned an F. So did Sears, but that mega-merchant did sponsor a righteous choir at the convention’s Gospel Night.

—Rob Tierney