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GARY — One political strategist and best-selling author has been on CNN, featured on Oprah Magazine and has made appearances on shows like “The Good Wife” and "House of Cards."

On Saturday afternoon, Keynote Speaker Donna Brazile stood in the Genesis Convention Center in Gary with a powerful message to bring to the attendees of the 27th Annual Indiana Black Expo Statewide Conference Luncheon.

“The moment is now and there's no time to waste, the next leg of our journey requires us to be present and requires us to take on the mantle of leadership,” Brazile said. “Historians are going to look back on this period, the second decade of the 21st century, and they're going to see us for what we really are. And I hope they will see us as the inheritors of those who came before, who are not afraid to take on the establishment and not afraid to move us forward.”

Brazile's speech drew applause and words of agreement from the crowd gathered, and also a fair share of laughter at the stories she recounted from her past.

The Indiana Black Expo Statewide Conference Luncheon included guests such as Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, President and CEO of IBE Tanya Bell and IBE Chairman Greg Wilson, who addressed the crowd Saturday. Workshops that focused on making community impact, developing leadership potential and program development continued throughout the day.

Freeman-Wilson said the local IBE members knew they wanted to have a dynamic speaker for the conference, and “there was one person who rose to the top.”

“Donna Brazile is no stranger to most of you because you've seen her on CNN, you've seen her on Fox News, you've seen her on House of Cards and now you get to see her and have her in Gary, Indiana,” Freeman-Wilson said. “She is someone who has been a standard-bearer in our community, and not only championed our movement in the political arena, but one who has championed us being in charge and having a significant voice in the political arena.”

Denise Comer-Dillard brought one of Brazile's books, “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House,” an insider's account of the events leading up to the 2016 presidential election. As Comer-Dillard, of Gary, reached over the stage with the book, Brazile signed the front page with a smile.

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“Seeing her is a joy. She says what she has to say from her gut, not a written speech,” Comer-Dillard said. “She puts it out there to say, 'Don't get disappointed. We've been through this before and we've gone over hurtles before.' Now it's time to get our tails out there and vote.”

Brazile touched on politics and diversity inclusion, as well as education. Mainly, she spoke to inspire action. 

“So, my friends, this is our season to use our power to make the best of it, to claim our future, to begin to transform our communities and begin to prepare our children and their children for a much different future,” Brazile said.

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Night Crime/Breaking News Reporter

Anna Ortiz is the breaking news/crime reporter for The Times, covering crime, politics, courts, investigative news and more. She is a Region native and graduate of Ball State University with a major in journalism and minor in anthropology.