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August 8th, 2012

Pres. Obama set to address Urban League conference

Marc Morial
“Support the strong, give courage to the timid, remind the indifferent, and warn the opposed.”

- Whitney Young, Jr.

This week, from Wednesday, July 25th to Saturday, July 28th, New Orleans will be the public policy and intellectual capital of America as host city for the National Urban League’s 2012 Annual Conference. I am personally thrilled to return to my hometown and the city I once served as mayor for this year’s conference. And I am honored and proud that President Barack Obama will deliver the opening address on Wednesday at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. As a non-partisan organization, the National Urban League has traditionally invited Presidents and major party candidates to address the convention, not only to share their agenda for the nation, but also to hear ours. 2012 Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney was also invited, but is not expected to attend.

Taking place in an important election year, the theme of this year’s conference is “Occupy the Vote: Employment and Education Empower the Nation.” Bringing together thousands of the nation’s most influential community leaders, policy makers, academicians, business executives and artists, the conference will address the issues of voting rights, double-digit unemployment in urban communities and the essential role of education as a force for change. Workshops on education, housing, job creation, small business development and the empowerment of young African American males and females will provide an unprecedented opportunity to influence public policy through grassroots political action.  There will even be a traditional New Orleans “White Linen Night” concert on Thursday evening featuring Chaka Kahn and Doug E. Fresh at the New Orleans Arena.

While we hope you have registered to be with us in New Orleans, a number of convention events are free and open to the public, including scores of exhibits, a career fair and a college fair in the Convention Center Exposition Hall.  My annual State of the Urban League address at 9:30 am Thursday morning is also open to the public.

There are also many ways to join us online. We’re especially excited about this year’s “Backstage Pass” which is providing exclusive access to behind-the-scenes video of conference speakers, VIPs, celebrities, and conference participants. Visit from July 25-28 to view this exciting live webcast throughout the conference. You can also get up-to-the-minute conference news, updates and highlights on Facebook and Twitter.

I want to thank Urban League of Greater New Orleans CEO, Nolan Rollins; New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu; representatives from our affiliates across the country; our speakers; and our major corporate sponsors for their support of the 2012 conference.

The National Urban League Annual Conference occupies a singular place in America’s political and cultural discourse.  When no one else would, our conference has been a forum to “support the strong, give courage to the timid, remind the indifferent and warn the opposed.” This week in New Orleans we will offer a unique opportunity for national dialogue and community service focused on the need to “Occupy the Vote,” create jobs and demand educational equity in urban America. We hope you will join us either in person or online.

Marc Morial is President and CEO of the National Urban League.

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