The Defender kicked off its State of Black series, three virtual public conversations with lawmakers on the city, county and state level, with the State of Black Houston featuring Mayor Sylvester Turner. State of Black Houston moderator, Defender CEO Sonceria Messiah Jiles, posed questions to Turner from participants via a real-time chat room. Additionally, Several State of Black community partners offered pre-recorded video questions. These included hard-hitting questions from Belinda Everette (NAACP Houston), Sharifat Lawal Price (Greater Houston Black Chamber), Wanda Anderson (National Pan-Hellenic Council Inc. Houston), Jackie Pope (Top Ladies of Distinction) and Steven Wright (Houston Area Urban League). The other event partner was the Houston Metropolitan Ministerial Alliance. Major sponsors for this virtual event series are Title Sponsor H-E-B, Presenting Sponsor Chevron, and VIP Sponsors Amegy Bank and Cadence Bank. Next up for this series is the State of Black Harris County, featuring Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo (Thursday, Oct 8 at 2pm). In essence, each State of Black event wants lawmakers to answer the questions: “What have you done for the Black community, and what are you planning to do?” To register for one or all three of the conversations, go to or visit for more info.