Boston to be put on national stage, host annual NAACP convention next year

Boston will take center stage next year as the city is set to host the 111th annual NAACP National Convention, shining attention on the city during a presidential election year.

“The eyes of the world will be on Boston during that week in that convention, because of the conversation that will be happening in our city,” Mayor Martin Walsh said at a press conference Thursday where state and local officials and NAACP leadership spoke about the convention.

“Our city is succeeding and always has because of resilience and the contributions of our black community here in Boston,” Walsh said.

Across the globe,1,200 cities competed for the chance to host the convention, according to Otis Rolley of the Rockefeller Foundation, who announced the organization would be investing $300,000 in the convention.

“The fingerprints of Bostonians are inextricably woven into the fabric of the NAACP,” said NAACP Boston president Tanisha Sullivan, later adding, “We are deeply committed to racial justice and racial equity here in the city of Boston.”

The NAACP Boston Branch is recognized as the first chartered branch of the organization. The convention will take place July 25 through 29 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. This year’s national convention was held in Detroit.

Gov. Charlie Baker, addressing NAACP leadership, said, “I just want to say how honored we are to have you choose this city and our Commonwealth and I can promise you that I’ll be here, myself, personally to greet you.”

The Massachusetts Legislature approved $200,000 to help fund the convention, which Baker indicated he would be likely to approve.

The convention is expected to draw in about 10,000 people, including some presidential candidates. Many officials who spoke cited political and social challenges the nation is facing leading up to the 2020 presidential election.

“The NAACP National Convention will be one of the final places that will provide a stage for individuals vying for the White House,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, saying all candidates will be invited to the stage.

“But we will not surrender the microphone for racial hate speech,” said Johnson.

Leon Russell, chairman of the NAACP said, “As we go into our 111th year, our nation faces many challenges, some we thought had been put behind us but here we are again.”

Russell highlighted education, criminal justice and economic sustainability. “We will create a new dialogue about what is happening with our decision to determine who will lead the policy making for this nation. That’s a serious thing when you think about 2020.”