Marc Morial

“For a century, the National Urban League has been inspiring people of every race and every religion and every walk of life to reach for the dream that lies at the heart of our founding — the promise that no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you came from, no matter how modest your beginnings, no matter what the circumstances of your birth, here in America, you can make it if you try. Of course, this dream has never come easy.  That’s why the Urban League was formed.” – President Barack Obama

The National Urban League’s primary mission is economic empowerment for people of color and other marginalized communities. But to achieve parity — if we are to narrow the nation’s racial gaps in income, wealth and educational attainment — we have to make our voices heard.

Our votes must be counted at the ballot box, and we must be counted, in the census. Our goals of fulfilling, family-sustaining employment, homeownership, college readiness, affordable, quality healthcare will elude us if our political power is diluted. 

That’s why the focus of the 2019 National Urban League Conference in Indianapolis is “Getting 2 Equal: United Not Divided.”  

Taking place July 24 through 27 at the Indiana Convention Center, the nation’s largest civil rights and social justice conference attracts thousands of the nation’s most influential community leaders, together with top policy-makers, academicians, business leaders and artists for three days of dynamic dialogue, intellectual exchange and community service.

Honoring a long-standing tradition of the conference, the leading presidential candidates will attend, acknowledging the indispensable relationship between government and the civil rights and social justice community. Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, and Mayors Bill de Blasio and Pete Buttigieg are among the candidates who will share their vision for urban America and racial justice.

Actress, dancer and choreographer Debbie Allen and retired NBA player Norm Nixon, co-founder and executive director of the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, will be honored at the Whitney M. Young Awards Gala, along with Congressman André D. Carson.

Earlier this year, the National Urban League’s 2019 State of Black America report examined voter suppression and foreign interference — highlighting the dire threat to democracy our nation is facing. On Thursday, some of the top thought leaders and activists delve into the topic for the plenary “Unleashed: The Untapped Power of the Black and Brown Vote.” We’ll be joined by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Women’s March co-founder Tamika Mallory, Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Rev. Al Sharpton and representatives of our State of Black America research partners, the Brennan Center for Justice and the Marshall Fund of the United States.

We’re exited and proud to be celebrating three major anniversaries in the Urban League movement at our conference this year: the 30th anniversary of the Youth Leadership Summit, our signature program for developing the potential of our movement’s youngest members; the 20th anniversary of the National Urban League Young Professionals, our auxiliary for 21-to-40-year-olds; and the 15th anniversary of the Urban League Entrepreneurship Centers, incubators for helping people start, sustain and grow their own businesses. These are three vital parts of our movement, three of the fastest-growing elements and really, the very future of our movement.

A highlight of the conference is the family-focused Back to School Community and Family Day on July 27, expected to attract thousands of Indianapolis-area residents for informative and entertaining exhibits, sessions and school-supply giveaways.

TechConnect is where technology, racial justice and social change intersect. Speakers and presenters include fashion icon Dapper Dan, recording artist and television personality Ray J. and singer-songwriter and producer Anthony Hamilton.

Jobseekers can take advantage of insightful workshops, free headshots, resume critique and inspiring advice at the Career and Networking Fair — free and open to the public. The N.U.L. Experience and Expo Hall includes more than 100 exhibitors, a Health and Wellness Zone, a legal clinic, a Volunteer Zone, along with seminars, entertainment and more — all free and open to the Indianapolis Community.

Learn more at our conference website at and join us at the Indiana Convention Center. If you can’t be there in person, follow along on social media using the hashtags #NULConf19 and #Getting2Equal.


Marc Morial is president and CEO of the National Urban League.

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