WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama has had the spotlight to himself at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual awards dinner during all but one of his nearly seven years in office.
But on Saturday, with the campaign to succeed him in full swing, Obama was certain to face some competition for attention at the gathering sponsored by a major Democratic Party constituency group.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton planned to attend the dinner at Washington’s convention center, to mingle, but not give a speech.
Vice President Joe Biden was attending a caucus prayer breakfast before heading to his home in Delaware for the weekend.
Biden has been consulting with family and advisers and traveling across the country as he considers a late entry into the 2016 White House race.
Clinton, the early front-runner, has slipped in the polls against a strong challenge by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and controversy over using a personal email address during her tenure as secretary of state.
Obama intended to use his sixth address at the gala to highlight African-American women and the role they have played in shaping American democracy, the White House said.
He was expected to note the challenges facing black women, particularly in the areas of education, employment and criminal justice.
This year’s dinner is honoring Fred Gray, a civil rights attorney who represented Rosa Parks and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and Juanita Abernathy, a civil rights activist who helped lead the historic Montgomery bus boycott in her home state of Alabama in the mid-1950s.
Posthumous honors are being given to Amelia Boynton Robinson, an organizer of the Bloody Sunday march to Montgomery, Alabama, in March 1965. Earlier this year, she celebrated the 50th anniversary of the march by crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, while holding hands with Obama.
Boynton Robinson died late last month at age 104.