Presidential candidates, authors, speakers & entertainers join Association gathering in pre-centennial year
Excitement continues to grow as the NAACP heads toward its 99th Annual Convention, being held July 12-17 in Cincinnati, just months ahead of its centennial celebration. Themed “Power, Justice, Freedom, Vote,” this year’s annual gathering of more than 8,000 NAACP members, delegates and visitors will be held at the Duke Energy Center and kicks-off a series of events leading up to the association’s centennial Feb. 12, 2009.
“This year’s convention is a culmination and celebration of all the NAACP represents,” said National Board of Directors Vice Chair and Convention Planning Committee Chair Roslyn M. Brock. “As we approach the next century of social justice activism, we remain empowered and committed to a progressive agenda that demands fairness and prosperity for all. The convention’s offerings underscore the point that we all must be engaged in that effort and that the NAACP has a place for everyone and every lifestyle.”
As always, the convention offers participants access to a stellar array of speakers, officials, entertainers and information. Among many highlights, NAACPers and guests will hear from candidates seeking their party’s nomination for the 2008 presidential election. Candidates from each party will participate in separate functions the mornings of July 16 and 17.
On July 12, former U.S. Assistant Surgeon General Dr. Marilyn Hughes Gaston, local physician Dr. Pamela L. Redden and others will address black women’s health and how it impacts the whole family during the health symposium that morning as Dr. Nelson L. Adams, president of the National Medical Association, keynotes the health advocacy luncheon at midday.
Bishop E. Lynn Brown keynotes the Memorial Prayer Breakfast at 8 a.m. on July 13 while Women in the NAACP Empowerment Brunch attendees that day will hear from IBM Vice President Marilyn D. Johnson and author/journalist A’Leila Bundles and University of Virginia medical professor Dr. Pamela A. Ross.
NAACP National Board of Directors Chairman Julian Bond addresses the convention at the first public mass meeting July 13 at 6 p.m. NAACP President–elect Benjamin T. Jealous will also attend the convention.
There will be a screening of the NAACP Image Award-winning film “The Great Debaters” on July 13 at 3 p.m., including dialogue with the film’s co-star Nate Parker. The youth concert that night will feature actor/comedian Kevin Hart with music by Day 26 and Cheri Dennis.
Bishop George W.C. Walker, Sr. will keynote the Religious Leaders Luncheon and Judge Nathaniel R. Jones, former NAACP General Counsel, will speak at the Clarence Mitchell Memorial Luncheon, both at 12:30 p.m. on July 14. The NAACP Youth & College Division will host the ‘The Great Debate – What’s at Stake in ‘08’ that day at 6:30 p.m. featuring high school and college level teams debating contemporary issues and presidential political topics. The debates will be moderated by CNN anchor T.J. Holmes.
NAACP Executive Director Emeritus Benjamin L. Hooks will be the keynote speaker at the National Membership Luncheon being held July 15 at 1 p.m. The NAACP centennial celebration will officially be launched at the ‘Journey to 100’ reception being held at the National Underground Railroad Museum July 15 at 8 p.m.
“All roads lead to Cincinnati this summer and we are very excited and honored to have the hosting duties,” said Cincinnati NAACP Branch President Christopher Smitherman. “We are implementing a plan that assuredly will lead to a successful and memorable 99th convention.”
U.S. Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee, will keynote the July 16 plenary session prior to a panel discussion marking the 40th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker will keynote the Labor Luncheon that day at 1 p.m.
July 16 evening highlights will feature the Gospel Extravaganza with entertainment from Dottie Peoples, Donnie McClurkin and Dr. Bobby Jones. The Youth Freedom Fund dinner will have music video producer Lil X as its speaker. “The Express,” a film about the life of Ernie Davis, the first African American Heisman trophy winner, will be screened at 8 p.m. with actors Charles S. Dutton and Rob Brown.
The convention draws to a close July 17 with the final session featuring speakers U.S. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, as of this writing, both Democratic Party presidential hopefuls. The closing banquet will feature a highly acclaimed keynote speaker with entertainment from R&B songstress Regina Belle. Participating in the program will be internationally acclaimed opera soprano Angela Brown.
As part of the 39th Annual Commerce and Industry Show, the second NAACP Authors’ Pavilion will showcase 40 of the best in literary talent. Individual presentations and book signings are the heart of the Authors’ Pavilion experience, which is designed to bring readers and their favorite writers and poets together. Featured writers this year, among others, include: Cincinnati native Sharon Draper, E. Lynn Harris, Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant, Victoria Christopher Murray, comedienne/actress Mo’Nique and TV chef G. Garvin. The Authors’ Pavilion opens July 12 at 2 p.m. and operates from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 13-15. For more info, go to: www.naacpauthrospavilion.com.
Conventioneers and visitors are especially encouraged to take advantage of the diverse array of resources provided at the Information Exchange Center (IEC). The IEC is designed to create healthier, wealthier more connected families and will feature exhibits from the Enough Project, which focuses on the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan and other crimes against humanity, The Center for Responsible Lending, the TransAfrica Forum and voter empowerment partners.
The 38th Annual Commerce & Industry, Health Fair and the NAACP Retail Expo will open Saturday, July 12 at 2 p.m. and conclude July 15 at 6 p.m. An accompanying job fair will be held July 15 and 16. The commerce and industry expo represents a broad spectrum of organizations from Fortune 500 companies, government and social service agencies to minority-owned businesses and institutions of higher education.
As is customary, the convention will also offer registrants the NAACP Continuing Legal Education seminars, as well as adult and youth workshops offering tips and trends on the NAACP legislative agenda/strategy, economic empowerment, juvenile justice, the assault on affirmative action, health care, civic engagement, education, voting rights and civil/human rights law. The Thalheimer Awards will also be presented to NAACP branches, state conferences and publications that have contributed the most to the Association's mission during the preceding year.
“We will be rolling out the red carpet to ensure that visitors have a world class experience that they will not soon forget,” said Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory. ”The 2008 NAACP Convention is also a tremendous opportunity to engage the Cincinnati community in a greater dialogue about where we are both as a community and as a nation and where we need to go in the future. The world will be watching Cincinnati this summer, and we are ready to take the stage.”
All registration for the convention takes place at Duke Energy Center. On-site adult registration fee is $100. The youth registration fee is $50. For registration times and additional information, go to www.naacp.org/events/convention/index.htm.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.