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Allen West, Frederica Wilson and Haiti featured in Congressional Black Caucus' conference

The Congressional Black Caucus holds its annual legislative conference in Washington this week -- and it features two South Florida representatives as speakers.

Rep. Allen West, a Plantation Republican and retired Army lieutenant colonel who spent 22 years in the service, will be hosting a panel Thursday titled, "African-Americans in the Military: Past, Present and Future." Among the questions the panel is expected to address: why black officers are less likely than their white counterparts to serve in elite combat teams, and what Congress can do to increase the number of African-Americans in the military.

West, the Caucus' only Republican member and a tea-party favorite, almost quit the group recently after disagreeing with his Democratic colleagues who lambasted tea partiers. One Democrat, Rep. Andre Carson of Indiana, referred to tea partiers wanting to see blacks "hanging from a tree," a comment he later apologized for.

Also Thursday, Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Miami Gardens Democrat, will take part in a forum titled, "Haiti: A New Beginning." Wilson's congressional district has the largest concentration of Haitian Americans in the country. The discussion will center around rebuilding Haiti after last year's ravaging earthquake.