SPECIAL TO THE WILMINGTON JOURNAL
“Our Lives Matter, Our Votes Count”
Recipient of 101st Spingarn Medal is Ohio Native
CINCINNATI – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) today unveiled the theme for its 2016 National Convention to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio, July 16-20. Thousands of NAACP members are expected to attend this year’s convention under the theme “Our Lives Matter, Our Votes Count.” The NAACP’s 107th National Convention will feature workshops, discussions and speakers highlighting voter education, voter protection and voter mobilization.
“When the right of every citizen to vote is under threat in states across the nation, we must join together to respond and be heard,” said Roslyn M. Brock, chairman of the NAACP’s National Board of Directors. “In towns and cities across this country, we are witnessing a new era of activism as a new generation rises to stand against police brutality and for the right to be heard in our democracy. We must harness that desire to be heard and mobilize our members to protect the vote and to get out the vote.”
The convention theme was announced Tuesday in Cincinnati with city officials, and marks a return to the city by the NAACP in a presidential election year. The 2008 convention in Cincinnati drew thousands of visitors, as well as appearances by presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama.
“We are proud to once again have the opportunity to provide the backdrop for the NAACP’s National Convention, especially during such an important election year filled with impassioned political debates that strike at the core of civil rights issues in our country,” said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. “I look forward to being part of what promises to be a memorable convention and a thought-leading event for the country this year.”
In addition to appearances by presidential candidates and other top national leaders, delegates from the organization’s more than 2,000 branches and chapters will debate resolutions for national action and discuss ways the organization can continue to advocate for criminal justice and economic reforms, protecting the right to vote and other issues.
“The 2008 NAACP National Convention marked a critical turning point in our region’s history,” said Dan Lincoln, president and CEO, CincinnatiUSA. “By working together, we were able to bring important conversations to the table and change our destination’s narrative. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to do that again this summer, especially during such a critical election year.”
The convention overlaps with the 2016 Republican National Convention scheduled July 18-21 in Cleveland.
The NAACP convention will also include celebrity appearances, community-based events and seminars with top activists, as well as the national competition of the NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) program.
NAACP officials also announced Tuesday that Ohio native and retired Judge Nathaniel R. Jones will be the recipient of the 101st Annual Spingarn Medal, recognizing him for his commitment equality and civil rights.
Jones, a native of Youngstown, Ohio, served as general counsel for the NAACP from 1969 to 1979 and later worked with Nelson Mandela and the post-apartheid South African government as they drafted the nation’s new constitution in 1993.
“Judge Jones’ commitment to civil rights and social action embodies the spirit and mission of the NAACP,” said Leon W. Russell, vice chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors. “His efforts to end school segregation, defend affirmative action and his work as a federal judge deserves the NAACP’s highest honor.”
The Spingarn Medal is named for Joel Elias Spingarn, an early founder of the NAACP who served as the chairman, treasurer and president of the organization from 1913 until his death in 1939. The medal is awarded annually to a person of African descent for outstanding achievement. Past awardees have included Sidney Poitier, Colin Powell, Oprah Winfrey, Langston Hughes and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
More information on the NAACP’s 2016 National Convention can be found at www.naacpconvention.org.