When COVID-19 forced the cancellation this summer of most in-person gatherings, one of the most bitter blows to Boston was the loss of the NAACP national convention, which had been slated to take place here for the first time since 1982.
But NAACP Boston Branch President Tanisha Sullivan told GBH News Tuesday that the group has decided to give Boston a second try at an in-person national convention in 2023.
"There was such energy and excitement with respect to the convention coming here to Boston this year that we worked very hard with the national office and also here on the ground in Boston to identify another time for the convention to be here in the city," Sullivan said. "And so the convention will be in Boston in 2023."
The long wait for the return of the NAACP convention was partly a reflection of lasting racial tensions in the city. Sullivan said that the decision to scheulde the event in Boston was a recognition that "there has been some progress as it relates to the racial climate here in Boston."
She noted that while the convention has been largely online this year, the group was able to stage a drive-in concert near Carson Beach in South Boston, the site of one of the city's worst race riots in 1975.
"We were intentional about selecting that location because we wanted to speak to the evolution of our city," Sullivan said. The beach, and South Boston generally, "certainly from a historical standpoint, does not have a reputation of being welcoming to all people. But here we are in 2020, and we were able to really present a historic moment, if you will, on the shores of Carson Beach in South Boston — an NAACP drive-in concert where we had Black artists celebrating our culture and bringing a bit of joy in the midst of this pandemic." The event was also an economic boon for Black artists and businesses that have been struggling through the pandemic, she said.
And even though the event has been mostly virtual — roundtable discussions are continuing this week— it has accomplished its primary goal of providing a gathering and conversation space to serve "as a catalyst for the ongoing work that must continue in communities every day to help ensure greater racial equity and racial equality. "
Sullivan said that with the "three year runway," local planners will be able to produce "something even greater for 2023."