By Cyril Josh Barker
The NAACP hosted its 113th National Convention from July 14 to July 20 in Atlantic City after two years of virtual programming.
The nation’s most prominent advocacy and social justice organization will bring together elected officials, activists, organizers, faith leaders, and entertainers for workshops and discussions to promote solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing Black communities today, including voter suppression, student debt, police brutality and reproductive rights.
Highlights at this year’s convention included the 51st annual NAACP Experience where corporate, government, minority, and non-profit exhibitors display their products and services, two days of free Continuing Legal Education training on redistricting and voting rights by the NAACP Office of the General Counsel, and the virtual career fair featuring 30 employers across the country seeking Black professionals for jobs that can be done remotely or on-site.
“In the past two years, our nation—and the Black community in particular—has been faced with increasingly alarming crises, from rampant white supremacy to rising student debt to increased voter suppression to the total degradation of abortion rights,” said Derrick Johnson, president & CEO of the NAACP. “The foundation of our democracy is in crisis and we need to identify a path forward that allows for Black communities to thrive. The 113th National Convention is a critical moment for our community to come together and discuss how we can combat the growing threats to our fundamental rights and values and build Black power.”
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to the organization on Monday at the Atlantic City Convention. Harris is a lifetime member of the NAACP. During her speech, Harris discussed the need for African Americans to vote during the upcoming General Election.
“Our freedoms are all connected,” she said. Consider the freedom to vote. The freedom to vote is the freedom that unlocks all others. Is—it is a catalyst for economic justice, for social justice, for racial justice. And generations of leaders gave their sweat, their tears, their blood in its defense.”
On Wednesday, Majority Whip James E. Clyburn received the NAACP’s highest honor, the Spingarn Medal. Clyburn said his own history with the NAACP goes back to when he was elected president of the NAACP Youth Council in South Carolina when he was 12 years old.
“I am pleased beyond measure and humbled to receive the Spingarn Medal, the NAACP’s highest honor,” Clyburn said. “The history of this award speaks to the work done for over a century to ensure the American dream is made accessible and affordable for all her citizens.”
Each year, the NAACP provides a platform for concerned citizens to step away from the frontlines of the fight for civil rights to reflect, learn from each other, and plot the path forward.
Past conventions have featured presidents and vice presidents, leading members of congress and senators, activists, and organizers offering an opportunity to carve out the vital work we have to do to build a prosperous future as the nation faces competing civil rights crises and continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.