Baker, Walsh offer details on 2020 NAACP convention in Seaport
Governor Charlie Baker and Mayor Martin J. Walsh on Thursday offered new details on funding and dates for the NAACP National Convention in the Seaport next year.
Baker said $200,000 in state money earmarked for the Boston NAACP chapter would go toward the convention. Walsh said he expected that $3.5 million to $4 million would be raised privately to support the event, and that he hoped most of the money would be spent on hiring local businesses, such as vendors and caterers, run by people of color.
The conference, July 25-29 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, is expected to draw 10,000 attendees.
National NAACP officials, in Boston for the announcement, credited the efforts of Walsh and former Boston NAACP president Michael Curry for leading them to pick the city for the convention. “Boston was not on the radar,” convention planning chairman Michael Turner said. Curry and Walsh “laid out the red carpet.”
Walsh said he hoped hosting the convention would soften Boston’s image as a racist city. In 2017, the Globe Spotlight team documented racial disparities that have kept African-American Bostonians largely out of power in politics and business.
Walsh has had a fraught relationship with the Boston NAACP. He got D’s and F’s from the organization during his 2017 reelection campaign for his attempts to foster racial equity and diversify government.
“Having that dialogue [at the convention] here in Boston means a lot, which will help us in advancing what we’re doing here in the city of Boston,” Walsh said. “As many conversations as we can have, real honest conversations, that’s important.”
NAACP Boston president Tanisha Sullivan said none of the convention’s programming would be focused specifically on Boston’s issues with race. “The issues that we’re wrestling with here in Boston are issues that black people are wrestling with across the country. Our challenges are not unique to Boston.”
Boston last hosted the convention in 1982.