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The National Urban League recently hosted its annual State Of Black America panel in D.C. This year’s theme was “Redeem the Dream: Jobs Rebuild America,” and panelists spoke about improving educational and economic opportunities for African-Americans today.

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“We need to embrace technology. Closing the digital divide will help us close the achievement gap,” said Cynthia Marshall, Senior VP Of Human Resources For AT&T. Marshall’s opening remarks brought the crowd behind her, mentioning the company’s hiring initiatives for African-Americans. She shared a key acronym: M.A.D. (Making A Difference).

Watch Cynthia Marshall speak:

NUL President and CEO Marc Morial noted AT&T’s commitment to job creation for minorities, saying, “AT&T hires 20,000 people a year.”

Acknowledging the 2013 State Of Black America report, Executive NUL Policy Institute Director Chanelle Hardy remarked that more work is vital. “The economic equality index for blacks stands around 71%. The gaps are closing, but there’s still work to be done.”

Brown Girls Lead Founder Stephanie Brown James argued that Black America needs to overcome self-esteem issues before tackling economic ones. “Black America is in a state of schizophrenia,” she said. ” Many of us are disconnected from reality. We believe what others say about us and are confused about our identity.”

Washington Bureau Comcast Chief Robert Traynham was last to speak, ending on a optimistic point. “Our conversations must migrate down into our communities and families, and move beyond the upper echelon chatter. We must ready our children to compete at the global level,” he said.

Other panelists at the event included Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson and Tanisha Sykes, Senior Editor Of Personal Finance And Career For Essence Magazine.

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Next Page: Tanisha Sykes Speaks

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