Jun 28, 2023 - Things to Do

What to expect at the NAACP Convention in Boston

Tanisha Sullivan, president of the NAACP's Boston chapter,  discusses the upcoming convention alongside local business and nonprofit leaders.

Tanisha Sullivan, president of the NAACP's Boston chapter, discusses the upcoming convention. Photo: Steph Solis/Axios

When the NAACP National Convention comes to Boston in July, local officials expect thousands of attendees and an estimated $10 million boost to the local economy.

  • The city last hosted the convention in 1982.

Why it matters: Boston still has a reputation as a racist city to some, especially considering its historical roles in the slave trade and segregation.

  • The convention gives the city a chance to "reintroduce itself," says Tanisha Sullivan, president of the NAACP’s Boston branch.

Driving the news: The event runs from July 26 through Aug. 1 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and will draw thought leaders, grassroots organizers, civil rights leaders and politicians from across the nation.

What they’re saying: "This presents us with an opportunity to share our history and be honest about it and not shy away from it," Sullivan tells Axios.

  • It also gives local leaders a chance to share how they’re addressing racial disparities in the region and learn from attendees about what’s working in other U.S. cities, Sullivan added.

Zoom in: Sullivan cited a range of ways Greater Boston is trying to address systemic barriers for Black and brown residents, including:

  • Increases in school funding for economically disadvantaged districts
  • Reforms to diversify the pool of local and state government contractors
  • Efforts to build a diverse clean energy workforce

Yes, but: National NAACP leaders acknowledged that Democratic-controlled Massachusetts stands out as a progressive beacon compared to states that are banning books, increasing voting restrictions and restricting abortion care.

  • NAACP board chairman Leon Russell noted that Boston isn’t like his home state of Florida, which is the subject of an NAACP travel advisory labeling the state as "openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals."

Details: The convention will host discussions on topics like criminal justice reform and voting rights but also feature giveaways and social events.

Plus: The city is helping organize a series of related public events including:

🎚️ Opening reception with DJ Jazzy Jeff

  • 5-7pm, July 28 at the BCEC.
  • Cost: Free, but registration is required.

🎶 The Cultural Nights Music Festival

  • 6-9pm, July 28 at 65 Northern Ave.
  • Cost: Free.

🥂 The delegates reception, co-hosted by Mayor Wu and Gov. Healey, where NAACP delegates and Boston locals can meet

  • 7-11pm, July 29, location TBD.
  • Cost: Free, but registration is required.

🙏🏾 Interfaith prayer service

  • 4-4:30pm, July 30 at Leader Bank Pavilion, 90 Northern Ave.

🎤 The 23rd annual GospelFest featuring Fred Hammond and Kierra “Kiki” Sheard

  • 5-9pm, July 30, also at Leader Bank Pavilion.

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