By Pat Loeb, Dray Clark
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The National Urban League conference opens in Philadelphia on Wednesday, bringing some 6,000 people and an estimated $8 million in economic activity to the city. Philadelphians are invited to several free events the conference is bringing to the Convention Center.
There will be a college fair, a job fair and a small business summit open to the general public. They’re part of the conference’s “Redeem the Dream” economic theme, which has been in the planning for months. But Urban League President Marc Morial says recent events have forced some agenda changes.
An undercurrent of discussion for everything here will be the Trayvon Martin matter,” he says.
Trayvon Martin’s mother and the family’s lawyer are last minute additions to Friday’s speaker list.
“The situation has struck a chord in people,” Morial says. “They want to talk about the criminal justice system. They want to talk about the case, they want to talk about the inequity, so we’re pleased they’re coming and we want to wrap our arms around the mother.”
Morial says Fulton has handled herself with great dignity and grace while enduring one of the most painful moments of her life with the loss of her son.
“We want to put our arms around her to some extent but I do think it’s an opportunity for people to hear directly from her,” said Morial.
Morial says there’s also the beginning of an effort to get stand your ground laws repealed around the country.
Attorney General Eric Holder will also speak at the conference on Thursday. Holder spoke out last week about the not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman case. He’s expected to make similar comments to conference attendees. Morial says Holder may also deliver remarks regarding voter rights.
Philadelphia last hosted the national conference 15 years ago. Patricia Coulter, President of the Urban League of Philadelphia says Philly beat out Denver to host the conference.
“With this conference we want to focus and spotlight on our work especially around jobs and workforce development,” said Coulter.
“We want to encourage people in this community to come down the Pennsylvania Convention Center,” said Morial.
The Urban League says this is a conference for Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley and they’re hoping the community will show up and take advantage of the opportunity.