The NAACP National Convention, which had been set for Boston this year but was moved mostly online in response to the coronavirus pandemic, will be held in the city in 2023, according to Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the president of the organization’s local chapter.
Hosting the 114th convention “will be an opportunity to build on the progress our city has made, to focus on the work left to be done, and to highlight the Black excellence here in Boston’s neighborhoods,” Walsh told participants in this year’s convention in a video posted online Sunday.
“It will also be an opportunity to highlight the historic Boston branch of the NAACP, which is the first chartered branch, dating back to 1911,” Walsh said in the video greeting, urging viewers to support their local branches.
Tanisha M. Sullivan, president of the Boston branch of the NAACP, said the three-year timeline gives the nation time to recover from the coronavirus pandemic that has disproportionately hit Black, Latino, and Native communities. And it will give local leaders an opportunity to “show what a city like Boston can do, coming through a pandemic … to help ensure that we have an equitable recovery.”
“Hopefully by 2023, we will not only have a vaccine available, but it will be accessible to folks,” she said. She added that she hopes by that time, the country will be past “the economic challenges that we are all living through.”
In three years, she said, participants can begin to assess early outcomes of the policing reforms and other measures meant to address racial injustices that were born out of this summer’s massive protests against the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and scores of other Black Americans.
“Three years from now, we’ll be able to see what the impact is,” Sullivan said.
When the nation’s largest civil rights organization announced early last year that it would bring its annual gathering to Boston, it was seen by many as a coup for the city and a symbol of how far Boston has come in addressing its troubled history on race.
But in May, with the coronavirus pandemic raging, the NAACP announced that it would move its convention mostly online, though some socially distanced events were held in Boston, including a drive-in concert and a day of community service in five city neighborhoods.
The convention concludes its public events this weekend, with local round-table conversations scheduled Friday through Sunday.
“The virtual convention has gone very well,” Sullivan said. Each year’s gathering includes a series of “mini-conferences,” she said, and the expanded calendar of the virtual convention allowed more time for those conversations.
“We really did make the best of this year of unpredictability and got really creative and innovative to help ensure that we could still have a local virtual convention here in Boston,” she said.
But there remains a lot of excitement around the idea of having a traditional face-to-face gathering in Boston, she said, and there is “a need for the convention to come to Boston to really help … bolster and support much of the work that we’re trying to do with respect to racial equity.”