By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
ATLANTIC CITY – It was still hard to contain Kaleem Shabazz’s excitement Monday, a day after the national NAACP announced that it will bring its convention to Atlantic City in 2022.
The national NAACP convention has long been one of the major and most influential civil rights conventions in the country, attracting politicians, business leaders, rights activists, celebrities and newsmakers from the across the U.S. and globe annually.
For the week the NAACP national convention is in session, it often becomes the national media focus point because of the high-profile attendees.
In short, it’s a big deal for Atlantic City and its majority-minority population in its turnaround efforts.
Shabazz, a longtime councilman for Atlantic City and the Atlantic City NAACP president, said he had a large group of Atlantic City believers who helped in the quest. He said they played up Atlantic City’s history with the African-American community, including Fannie Lou Hamer’s famous 1964 speech at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City where she said, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
“We had a tremendous effort,” Shabazz said. “Meet Atlantic City worked with us strongly. We went to Detroit and made our pitched. We talked about the history. We talked about the fact that Dr. King had been here several times. We said that really, really wanted it. I told one of the subcommittees that it was impossible to have a bad time in Atlantic City, even if you wanted to.”
The Atlantic City NAACP’s feat is even more impressive when you look at the population of cities the NAACP usually hosts its national convention. Atlantic City, 38,429 according to U.S. Census figures in 2017, will be sharing the stage with Boston (679,413) which will host the NAACP this year and Charlotte, N.C. (841,611), which will take in the NAACP in 2021.
Last year, the convention was held in Detroit (677,155) and the years before that in San Antonio (1.4 million) and Baltimore (614,700).
Shabazz said, though, Atlantic City as one of New Jersey’s destination resort cities, will have plenty to offer the convention goers when they travel to South Jersey.
“We have a lot of resources here,” Shabazz said. “This is what Atlantic City does, conventions. We do the League of Municipalities convention and it’s one of the biggest conventions on the East Coast. We can do big conventions because we have the resources and facilities. That’s how a lot of the casinos make their money.”
Shabazz said the announcement on the convention’s host hotel and other auxiliary events will be held on March 14. The NAACP also host its annual national ACT-SO competition before the start convention, which will attract hundreds of young people to the city as well.
“My hope is that this will be the biggest convention ever,” Shabazz said. “For the next two year, Meet AC will be helping us market potential NAACP convention goers to Atlantic City. We have a lot of golf for people who like that. We have the casinos, the boardwalk, the beach. We have a lot of things that people can do in a small, confined area, so transportation is easy.”
Another perk is that the convention will happen on a mid-term campaign season, virtually guaranteeing a stream of high-profile political candidates from across the country will make the trek to Atlantic City. Shabazz said the president, whoever that may be at the time, will be invited.
“I have high hopes,” Shabazz said. “He may not come, but we’re going to invite him.”
Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small shared the news on Instagram Sunday.
“A national organization saw fit to believe in the city of Atlantic City and decided to tell the world that in 2022 they’re coming to Atlantic City,” Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small said in a statement on Instagram. “I think it speaks volumes to the direction the city is going in.”
“Thrilled that the NAACP will hold their 113th National Convention in Atlantic City for the first time in over 50 years,” Murphy said. “Atlantic City has a rich legacy in the fight for civil rights and this is a true testament to our commitment to making New Jersey a place of fairness and justice.
Photo Courtesy of Atlantic City NAACP Facebook
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