PHILADELPHIA – The NAACP’s 106th annual convention is drawing a slate of notable public officials. President Barack Obama will deliver a keynote address Tuesday afternoon at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Obama ‘s remarks will be centered around reforming the criminal justice system.
This marks the second time that he will address the NAACP as president of the United States.
Former President Bill Clinton and founder of Clinton Foundation will address the convention’s final plenary session Wednesday morning at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
“President Clinton demonstrated his pragmatic leadership while in the White House. Today, he continues his work as a change-making leader through the Clinton Foundation. As the country is faced with challenges, we look forward to hearing the former president lend his perspective on some of the most important civil rights challenges of our time during the 106th annual convention,” said NAACP Chairman Roslyn Brock.
Clinton has addressed the NAACP’s national convention on multiple occasions.
“President Clinton comes to the NAACP’s 106th annual convention as not merely a humanitarian or a former president but as a friend. Whether advancing civil rights nationally or combating human rights challenges globally, President Clinton has demonstrated the values of the NAACP over an arc of public service that is both long and wide,” said Brock.
U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch will speak Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. during the Spingarn Dinner/Freedom Fund Banquet.
During a plenary session Monday, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) discussed a bill aimed at steering people from incarceration by offering more education. He discussed how investing in Pre-K can help children earn more later in life and reduce the likelihood that a child will one day encounter the criminal justice system.
There are various events that are open to the public including a career fair held Tuesday from 12 to 6 p.m. Hiring managers will be on hand to answer questions about opportunities in: hospitality, food service, government, technology, banking, finance, sales, customer service, energy and retail.
The removal of the Confederate battle flag from state capitol grounds has caused the NAACP to lift its economic boycott of South Carolina over the weekend. The civil rights group voted to end the 15-year economic boycott against the state during its 106th annual convention.
NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks said the organization’s decision to lift its economic boycott on the state of South Carolina comes 15 years after exerting consistent and aggressive economic pressure on state lawmakers to bring the well-known symbol of racial oppression down.
“The removal of this emblem of hate is not only a victory for the state of South Carolina and the families of the nine students of scripture who lost their lives in a historic church, but it is a victory for the NAACP and the nation as we all work together to a forge a more perfect union,” Brooks said in a press statement.
“In no way does removing the Confederate flag in South Carolina fix the problems of our nation that are rooted in racism and bigotry, but the flag’s removal is a very important step in ceasing to glorify a bygone era in which African Americans were treated as second class citizens. This is a vindication of the grassroots advocacy of the NAACP.”
The NAACP convention, which runs through July 15 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, is expected to draw upwards of 8,000 attendees. The five-day convention is being held under the theme “Pursing Liberty In the Face of Injustice.”
When Brock delivered a keynote speech Sunday evening during the mass public meeting, she said liberty must be pursued.
“The NAACP has educated; demonstrated; legislated; litigated; negotiated; and agitated to secure the liberties promised by the founders of this great nation. Because our work is not complete, I stand before you tonight seeking a sustained commitment to action to accomplish our goals,” said Brock, who is the youngest person to be elected NAACP chairman.
During her speech, Brock touched on a number of issues including discrimination facing minorities around the country, the Confederate battle flag, the Emmanuel AME shooting, voting rights, police misconduct and gun violence occurring in the community.
“We the people must double down on our efforts to end gun violence in our own neighborhoods, while we address aggressive policing by those charged to protect and serve. We want comprehensive police reform that includes training for community policing where officers reflect the communities they serve,” Brock said. “We want body cameras to ensure accountability, and we want the elimination of unconscious biases which negatively impacts how men and women in blue perceive and treat communities of color.”
Brock rounded off her speech by highlighting the importance of achieving liberty.
“In our pursuit of liberty, we will get bruised. We will get battered. We will get bloodied. But we will not be defeated,” she said. “We are in a fight for our lives, because black lives matter. We are in a fight for our lives because all lives matter.”