On Friday, the Washington-based National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) held the opening plenary session of its 31st annual legislative conference. The focus of the conference, which is being held in Little Rock, Ark., is improving the financial stability and growth in communities nationwide.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe spoke during the session on racial equality in economics. “We need to talk more about the economic opportunities for minorities in this state,” Bebe said. “We talk about education, equality and opportunities. We talk about social justice and voting rights, and at the very core of creating the equality that we really want is economics.”

Also during the session, Special Assistant to President Bush Andrew Ciafardini read a letter from the president, and Julianne Malveaux, president of Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C., received the Pfizer Humanitarian Award.