National Urban League President & CEO Marc Morial unveils plan to bring its national convention to Broward in 2015
By Charles Moseley and photos by DAVIDiphoto
In today’s highly volatile socio-economic political climate it is rare the you find elected officials, civil rights leaders, and the top heads from the business community in agreement on virtually anything. Recently however the stars appeared to align as all of the aforementioned entities joined forces in one accord to make a very important announcement which will have a far reaching impact on South Florida in 2015 and hopefully for subsequent years to come.
National Urban League President & CEO Marc Morial announced plans last Friday to bring the National Urban League Convention to Broward County, in July of 2015.
Morial made the announcement during an address before a group of local business leaders, elected officials, and local residents attending a Broward County Urban League Business Leadership Breakfast. The event took place at the Broward County Urban League-Sunrise Health Community Empowerment Center in Fort Lauderdale.
The process to attract the national conference began shortly after the National Urban League held its Mid-Winter Workshop in Fort Lauderdale two years ago.
“I am proud to announce that in 2015 our Urban League annual conference. Two years ago after the Urban League held its Mid-Winter Conference in Fort Lauderdale we sat down with Germaine Smith-Baugh, Nikki Grossman and her team from the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.”
During the process of thinking about where we would meet, there were all these cities on the list- Atlanta, Washington D.C., Minneapolis, and Houston among others. After about 30 minutes I came away convinced that this community would be an excellent host of the Urban League Annual Conference. We are excited and I want to pay tribute to Germaine, the CVB, and the whole team here in Broward that twisted our arm. It didn’t take much twisting to convince us that this was in-deed a great location for our annual conference,” Morial added.
Nikki Grossman, President of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Visitors & Convention Bureau followed up on Morial’s brief address by interjecting a bit of satirical humor, which was met with a round of thunderous applause and rousing round of laughter by the audience in attendance.
“Minneapolis my a—!”, commented Grossman. Grossman continued her comments on a more serious note.
“We are so honored delighted and thrilled that we were able to come through that selection process and have your staff to work with us so diligently that you were able to make that recommendation. It will never get better than this, I will tell you that. With the 2015 National Urban League Conference right around the corner we’re working hard to make this the best conference ever, the best Urban League experience ever, and the best destination experience ever.”
The Urban League’s National Conference will attract some 10,000 participants and Urban League officials predict will have an estimated economic impact on the local economy in the range between $8 to $10 million dollars.
Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness viewed the news of the Urban League National Conference coming to Broward County in historical as well as from a pragmatic economic perspective.
“It’s a powerful thing with 40 years of the Urban League with 100 years of Broward being an incorporated county it tells the story of how far our country has come- our community has come, from days when many of us wouldn’t be welcome in hotels today we’re giving them everything they need to be accommodated here in Broward County- to show that we are a united community, a community moving forward working to insure that all our people are empowered. This is what the Urban League is about empowerment. “
Broward County Urban League President/CEO Dr. Germaine Smith-Baugh provided the audience with a video presentation which highlighted the areas which are the organization’s primarily focus. She also outlined the significance of hosting such an event here in Broward.
“There are several things that we’re focused on but very much so, four areas; education, jobs, housing, and health and in those four areas what we want to do is really begin to close the income gap for families that we’re helping to under-stand that they need to build their assets, how do they grow their assets, to make their families more sufficient.”
“One of the things that’s really important is that we high-light is the impact that the Urban League is having on our community. And the second area is being able to demonstrate the value of the national conference coming here locally,” she added.
The Urban League video showed the real life success stories of clients who had benefited from participating in the various programs offered by the Urban League which resulted in some of them going to college, saving their homes from foreclosure, being gainfully employed, and becoming entrepreneurs.
Barbara White was one of the people featured on the video who could give a firsthand account of how the Urban League had changed her life in dramatic fashion. She was about to lose her home to foreclosure and had filed for bankruptcy several times when she found out about the Urban League from a friend. She now has her own business, A-!-A Transportation Services Corporation, a limousine company.
“The Urban League has empowered me and my family to become self-sufficient, entrepreneurs, and home owners. Right now my daughter is at FIU, my son has his master’s degree, and right now my credit score is at 750. Before the Urban League, It was at 400.”
Former Board Chairman of the BCUL John Ruffin Jr. has been a strong supporter of the Urban League of Broward County over the years. He challenged the community to lend their support for the civil rights organization.
“The Urban League of Broward County is certainly a premier institution in a lot of different venues. It’s ours so we need to support it.”
Albert Tucker, Vice President of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau has been instrumental in recent years in attracting multi-cultural organizations to hold similar events here in Broward County including; The 100 Black Men of America, National Newspaper Publishers Association, and American Tennis Association which will be relocating their permanent home to Fort Lauderdale in a few years.
“Today is an important day because it brings together the National Urban League in conjunction with our local Urban League and most importantly our business community in terms of raising funds and awareness of economic empowerment and what’s going to take place in 2015.”
Former President of the National Medical Association Dr. Nelson L. Adams, Chairman of the Board for Sunshine Health explained why his company had decided to partner with the Urban League of Broward County.
“There’s a real affinity between the work that the Urban League has done for many years and the work that Sunshine Health does. We take care of the health of people and that’s physically, mentally and the truth be told even spiritually, not unlike the work that the Urban League does. It’s a synergistic relationship The Chairman of the Board the CEO of Centene Corporation the parent corporation of Sunshine Health is also a board member of the Urban League at the national level. That relationship between Centene at the national level and Marc Morial at the Urban League likewise locally we have had a great relationship with Germaine. It has been a win, win relationship for both organizations.”