People of color on Long Island could push the agenda of government and have all of their needs met if they came together and voted.
That was one of the dominant messages Saturday at the 2014 Long Island Somos El Futuro/We Are The Future Black-Brown Alliance Conference at the Islandia Marriott.
Sponsored by Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood), the day of workshops and discussions was attended by about 200 people, including state and local officials, community members and leaders.
"We as a community have to expand our vision," Ramos said, adding that the new face of racism on Long Island has a more subtle look that people of color need to recognize and address.
More and more high-end housing is being constructed to prevent people of color from moving into certain areas. "They want to make sure there are people there (in their communities) who are of their political persuasion. It's done by design, not by coincidence."
Kimberly Jean Pierre, director of Babylon Town's Wyandanch Community Resource Center, said it is important for residents of these communities to pay attention to all issues. "In order to advocate for people, we need to know what these issues are," she said.
She and other speakers stressed the importance of voting to be properly represented.
Rev. Roderick A. Pearson, president of Islip Town NAACP, said there also needs to be more involvement in these communities from churches. "The church and state are no longer separated," Pearson said. "They've gotten married, but unfortunately in Long Island we've missed the ceremony."
Pearson said one of the most influential voices in a community is the church as evidenced by its place at the "center" of the civil rights movement. "On Long Island, we need to let the clergy know it's your civic obligation to get involved in politics."
Ramos said a report on the information generated from the conference will be given to all 24 of Long Island's "elected officials of color" to help them respond to the needs addressed.