Philadelphia has been chosen as the host city for the NAACP’s national convention in 2015, beating out St. Louis and Milwaukee for the competitive bid.
Jerry Mondesire, president of the NAACP’s Philadelphia branch, on Friday confirmed that the Commonplace Committee of the National Board had voted to approve the City of Brotherly Love as the convention city for its marquee event, while praising a Philadelphia Convention Center and Visitors Bureau delegation that traveled to Orlando to make their pitch for Philadelphia.
“I think that’s what carried the day,” Mondesire said. “I’m excited. This puts Philadelphia in front of the world one year before the next presidential election. The delegates will have a great time, like they did 11 years ago.”
Philadelphia, which hosted the national NAACP convention in 2004, remains a popular travel destination for African-Americans who find the country’s fifth-largest metropolitan area appealing because of its history, easy access, and wide range of entertainment choices, from a diverse mix of quality restaurants, cultural institutions and entertainment venues, including casinos, in and around the city.
Eighteen months of planning and preparation will start with the selection of a steering committee that includes corporate and community leaders who will assist in planning each day’s activities for the four-day convention, which will be held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, starting on the Thursday following the Independence Day holiday.
Mondesire said the local NAACP chapter will be recruiting volunteers who will offer suggestions and ideas for developing a program for each day of the convention. He said he wants the city “fully engaged” in planning the event. The national convention is run by the national NAACP leadership, but the Philadelphia NAACP branch is responsible for booking speakers for the program, representing local activists, and leaders from the community and faith-based organizations.
Mondesire said he hopes to hire at least 300 vendors of color, who can offer products and services oriented toward African-Americans and Hispanics, from kente cloth, hair products, foot care, music and other entertainment. He envisions a lineup of vendors at the Odunde Street Festival. Held in South Philadelphia, the event is called the country’s largest and longest-running African American festival.
Key players on the delegation included Jack Ferguson, president and CEO for the Philadelphia Convention Center and Visitors Bureau, and Bill Wilson, partner at Synterra, Ltd., and part-owner of Marriott Downtown Philadelphia.