The African American Mayor’s Association is gathering in Atlanta this week to discuss key policy issues and two major anniversaries. GPB’s Amanda Andrews explains.

Hundreds of the country’s Black mayors are gathered in Atlanta this week for the 10th annual African American Mayors Association conference. They’re gathering to discuss key policy issues and recognize past leaders who paved the way.

This year’s conference was held in Atlanta to recognize the 50th anniversary of Atlanta electing its first Black mayor, Maynard Jackson.

Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam said they can’t move forward without honoring the past.

“If you're any kind of mayor, you knew about Maynard Jackson,” he said. “You knew that he was the first large-scale mayor that any one of us knew. Quite frankly, he was the father of Affirmative Action. He, along with other civil rights leaders, are the reason why we all stand here today.”

Mount Vernon, N.Y., Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard is the president of the AAMA. She opened the conference by discussing the purpose of the conference and the key policy issues up for discussion.

“We’ll be focusing on technology in our communities, building Black generational wealth, ensuring that our communities are prepared for climate resiliency and climate change and sustainability,” Patterson-Howard said. “We're focusing on public safety, food insecurity, public private partnerships.”

The future of policing and finding alternative approaches to end community violence were are key policy issues. St Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said during the opening ceremony that she’s been taking an active approach to address public safety during her tenure.

“In three years since I've been mayor, we brought down homicides by 40%,” she said. “Our public safety approach rests on three tenets: prevention, intervention, and enforcement.”

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens will join current and former mayors from around the country in a community town hall on Saturday as part of the conference. The event will include two panels. One will focus on voting rights, and another will discuss social policy around homelessness, education, and criminal justice.