Urban League conference kicks off in Philly with AG, Trayvon’s mother, Al Sharpton

Marc Morial speaks during the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee at Dirksen Senate Office Building on May 8, 2013 in Washington, DC. Credit: Getty Images
Marc Morial speaks during the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee at Dirksen Senate Office Building on May 8, 2013 in Washington, DC. Credit: Getty Images

Al Sharpton, Attorney General Eric Holder and Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, are set to appear at this week’s National Urban League conference being held this year in Philadelphia.

This year’s theme, “Redeem the Dream: Jobs Rebuild America,” is all the more important now, said Marc Morial, NUL president, because of the recent Supreme Court ruling striking down a provision of the Voting Rights Act and the much-anticipated and highly controversial jury acquittal of George Zimmerman, Martin’s killer.

“In the last 30 days,” said Morial, “[those issues] have become what’s on people’s minds.”

Sessions during the four-day conference include an Emergency Town Hall on Voting Rights and Justice, moderated by MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry. It will also feature Holder, who is slated to speak about the Voting Rights Act ruling.

“We need action by Congress to fix the damage the court has done,” Morial said. “We have to develop a new formula to determine how the provision would work and what the jurisdiction will apply to.”

Last month, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4, which established a formula determining which states and localities had to get clearance before changing voting procedures. The court deemed it unconstitutional to rely on old data.

Other events during the conference include a career fair with recruiters and professional career coaches, workshops on how to start a business, a college fair, expo hall and more.

Another highlight includes remarks from Sybrina Fulton and her lawyer Benjamin Crump who are scheduled to speak Friday on supporting the attorney general’s decision to investigate whether George Zimmerman, her son’s killer, could be charged under federal civil rights laws. Zimmerman was acquitted by a jury earlier this month.

Morial said following the verdict, he and the Urban League call for a “complete and fair investigation.”

“The parents have an option to bring a civil lawsuit,” said Morial.

About 5,000 people from all over the country are expected to attend the conference this week in Philadelphia, a city with local ties to Morial. He attended University of Pennsylvania with Mayor Michael Nutter who he called “very persuasive” when the time came to find a city to host this year’s conference.

“Philadelphia is a great city with a lot of history and great facilities,” Morial said.

The conference will be held at the Philadelphia Convention Center.


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