With the national political scene shining bright, the Defender thought it fitting to turn the focus on the home front—Houston, Harris County, and the state—and have a series of conversations with top lawmakers via the State of BLACK series.

Sponsored by the Defender Network, the State of BLACK Series will kick off this virtual experience with a one-on-one conversation with:

  • Mayor Sylvester Turner (State of BLACK Houston) Thurs., Oct. 1 at 2 pm.
  • State of BLACK Harris County will feature Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo (Thurs., Oct. 8 at 2pm).
  • State of BLACK Texas will spotlight a conversation with Texas Governor Greg Abbott. That date and time is still pending.

“These virtual events are the first in a new adventure for the Defender Network – its LIVE Journalism,” said Defender Network CEO Sonceria Messiah Jiles. “Instead of writing the story, we are living the story and allowing our attendees to get engaged in the journey.”

Messiah Jiles said that after participating in the Texas Tribune RevLab “Event Bootcamp,” her team gained real-world experience and knowledge from the masters of events in Texas, the Texas Tribune.

“Believe me, Defender teammates Clyde Jiles and Kim Wright also experienced the Bootcamp and will attest there was a lot of work but it was worth it to better serve our community. We are still learning but we invite the Houston community to join us.

During the events, each guest will be asked several questions, including:

“What have you done for the Black community, and what are you planning to do?”

With the Coronavirus running rampant in the Black community as the death toll continues to rise and economic pains surpassing all understanding; social injustice and the killing of African Americans at the hands of police officers dominating national headlines; a generation-defining 2020 election looming large; and everything from healthcare and women’s rights to environmental protections and Black voting rights in the air with a Supreme Court seat still vacant, there will be no shortage of topics that will be covered throughout the State of Black series.

The major sponsors for this virtual event series are Title Sponsor H-E-B, Presenting Sponsor Chevron, and VIP Sponsors Amegy Bank and Cadence Bank.

Representing the title sponsor H-E-B, James Harris, Director of Diversity & Inclusion and Supplier Diversity, states, “As a long time supporter of organizations that advocate for the Black community in the areas of business, education, and social services, H-E-B, through our Supplier Diversity program, is committed to fostering economic growth for local, Black-owned businesses.  Through these efforts and support for the State of BLACK series, we strive to influence meaningful action that creates lasting change.”

Messiah Jiles says she is “so appreciative of these corporate sponsors because their investment demonstrates they ‘walk the talk’ and understand the importance of the community getting answers during these trying times.  And I’m equally excited to get the support of six partners”:

  • NAACP Houston
  • Houston Area Urban League
  • Greater Houston Black Chamber of Commerce
  • Top Ladies of Distinction
  • Houston Metropolitan Ministerial Alliance
  • Houston Pan-Hellenic Council

To register for one or all three of the conversations, go to bit.ly/defenderstateofblack or visit Defendernetwork.com for more info. Once you have registered, you will receive instructions via email of how to tune in 24 hours prior to the event.