The National Action Network (NAN) kicks off its 31st annual national convention at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel Wednesday; the four-day event runs through Saturday. This year’s program focuses on civil rights and urgent social justice themes.
The convention will feature plenary sessions and panel discussions around issues including voting rights, criminal justice reform, immigration, health care, education, corporate responsibility and economic equity.
On Wednesday morning, more than a dozen leaders and officials, including Mayor Eric Adams, NAACP New York State Conference President Hazel Dukes and Rev. Jesse Jackson helped Sharpton cut the ribbon to begin the convention.
“We do not need performance activism, we need transformative activism,” Sharpton said. “That’s what we will be about these next four days. If you came to vent, you’re at the wrong convention. If you came to see the big names, you’re at the wrong convention. If you want to hear what people are really saying and you are going to be committed, then you are at the right convention.”
Adams delivered opening remarks after the ribbon cutting followed by a plenary address by Democratic National Committee Chair, Jaime Harrison. Sharpton also led a panel discussion on the upcoming midterm elections and voter suppression.
Later in the day, Attorney Benjamin Crump moderated a discussion on police reform with families of African Americans who have lost their lives to police shootings. The panel included Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, Wanda Cooper Jones, mother of Ahmaud Arbery, Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin and Karen Wells, mother of Amir Locke.
Throughout the remainder of the day, various speakers are addressing the convention including, Dr. Glenda Glover, President Tennessee State University and international President and CEO, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Congressman Tom Souzzi, hip hop artist Fat Joe, New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, New York City Comptroller, Brad Lander and Peebles Corporation Chairman and CEO Don Peebles.
In the evening, several people are being honored during the conventions’ annual “Keepers of the Dream” program. This year’s honorees include gospel singer Yolanda Adams, NFL coach Brian Flores, Charter Communications Group Vice President of Government Affairs and NAN Board Member Camille Joseph-Goldman, Equal Justice Initiative Founder and Executive Director Bryan Stevenson and U.S. Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
This year’s convention will feature panels, plenaries, and workshops dedicated to dissecting the political issues, social justice and economic equality, immigrant rights, diversity and the media, women’s empowerment and leadership, and consumer privacy and its impacts on communities of color. Each panel will feature a diverse array of political leaders, commentators, academics, clergy, and corporate leaders.