ATLANTIC CITY — City and state officials have joined together with the corporate sector to try to bring the NAACP’s 113th National Convention and its estimated $7 million economic impact to the resort in July 2022.

The NAACP Board of Directors next month will visit Atlantic City to see whether the city would be a good fit, said Jim Wood, president and CEO of Meet AC, the city’s marketing and promotional arm.

The NAACP will make its final decision on where to hold its 2022 annual convention during the early spring of next year, Wood said. It is believed that 1955 was the last time the NAACP held its national convention in Atlantic City.

Meet AC was approached about six months ago about making the effort by representatives of NAACP Region 2, which includes Atlantic City Councilman Kaleem Shabazz, who leads the city’s branch of the organization.

“Kaleem Shabazz was really one of the driving forces behind this, along with the mayor and the CRDA (Casino Reinvestment Development Authority),” Wood said.

Representatives from Meet AC and the city attended the 110th annual convention in July in Detroit, Wood said, adding the convention attracts about 4,000 attendees annually.

Meet AC commissioned a video by the 11th Floor Creative Group, based in Atlantic City, to sell the NAACP on the resort. The video is more than eight minutes long and promotes the city, its history and what it has to offer as far as hosting the convention.

There is a historical link between Atlantic City and the Civil Rights Movement, Shabazz says in the video. He mentions the late Fannie Lou Hamer, who famously said before a televised national audience at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in the resort, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired,” as she sought to unseat Mississippi’s all-white voting delegation in favor of a more representative one.

Adalberto “Bert” Lopez, a former president of the Atlantic City Board of Education, also is among the people featured in the video.

“I loved the idea. Atlantic City is the perfect location. ... This is a perfect time to have this kind of focus on Atlantic City,” Lopez said. “I have been a fan of the NAACP for a very long time. There have also been struggles in the Latino community for civil rights.”

Meet AC also filled out the request for proposals to host the 2022 convention, Wood said.

A formal invitation was made to have the approximately 65-member NAACP Board of Directors come to Atlantic City the weekend of Oct. 18 to 20, which has been scheduled, Wood said.

“We think Atlantic City has a lot to offer,” he said. “This would be a big coup for Atlantic City and would open the door for other minority and multicultural conferences.”

Atlantic City is competing against Des Moines, Iowa, and, Wood believes, a West Coast city.

The convention would bring about 4,000 people to the city for multiple days at the height of the summer. The casinos were approached and agreed to offer affordable rates and block out rooms, Wood said, adding the casinos were contacted before the overture was made to the NAACP.

Even though the resort already hosts conventions that draw 4,000 people, the media coverage for an NAACP national convention would be huge, Wood said.

The Detroit convention featured appearances by some of the 2020 presidential candidates and speakers who included activists, judges, pastors, CEOs, attorneys, professors and philanthropists.

Gary Hill, president of the Schultz-Hill Foundation and a CRDA board member, said he was asked to appear in the video to talk about what there is to do in the summer in Atlantic City.

“It would be great for the residential, business and cultural community,” said Hill, who is an NAACP member. “It will be difficult (to get the convention).”

The NAACP National Convention is usually held in much bigger cities than Atlantic City, which has fewer than 40,000 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Besides Detroit, it has been hosted by San Antonio, Baltimore, Cincinnati and Philadelphia during the past few years.

Contact: 609-272-7202


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