SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio will host the 109th Annual Convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, officials announced Friday.
The event, which is expected to draw more than 10,000 attendees, will be held in July at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Dates will be announced at a later date.
Leon Russell, vice-chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors, joined other organization leaders and Mayor Ivy Taylor in announcing the selection at the Barbara Jordan Community Center, home of the NAACP San Antonio chapter. It will be the first time that San Antonio has hosted the signature annual meeting of the nation's oldest civil rights group.
According to Visit San Antonio, the 2018 gathering will generate up to $10 million in economic impact.
"As a lifetime member of the NAACP and Mayor of the City of San Antonio, I'm excited to see both coming together for such a big event during an historic year," Taylor said. "The NAACP is about civil rights, inclusion and advancement of equality, and I believe that San Antonio is about all those things, too."
San Antonio was chosen after a site visit earlier this year by Russell and other NAACP officials. The city's NAACP chapter will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2018. Next week, San Antonio's annual MLK March is expected to draw more than 300,000 participants, making it the largest such celebration in the country.
"What a proud moment for the San Antonio Branch to celebrate 100 years of advocacy for freedom, justice and equality in this community," said Minnie Hill, of NAACP San Antonio, and chair of the 2018 convention. "It is truly a dream come true to share this historic occasion of hosting the National NAACP Convention and showcasing the beautiful, diverse City of San Antonio on a worldwide stage through the microsecond media that will cover this seven day convention."
The NAACP convention is a major political event. Past speakers have included President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton and one-time Attorney General Loretta Lynch. The speaker lineup and theme for the 2018 convention will be announced at a later date.
"San Antonio has long been noted for its commitment to history, culture and diversity," said Casandra Matej, president and CEO of Visit San Antonio. "It seems fitting that our community, with its spirit of inclusion and acceptance, would be selected to host the 2018 NAACP National Convention."
The 2018 NAACP Convention will be part of a remarkable year for San Antonio, which will be recognizing its Tricentennial.
In addition to the NAACP gathering and a crowded lineup of Tricentennial events and celebrations, the city will host the NCAA Final Four and the Risk Insurance Management Society conference, the largest insurance convention in the world.
Copyright 2017 by KSAT - All rights reserved.