“Thank you, Urban League, for all of your leadership, and I look forward to fighting with you. … Part of the strength of this organization and all of the leaders in this room is that we have always been driven by the knowing what can be, unhindered by what has been. It is a fight born out of optimism. It is a fight that is born out of knowing that we must fight for the soul of our country also for the love of the country. And it is a fight that we will win. — Kamala Harris, speech at the National Urban League conference
When the National Urban League last met for an in-person conference in July 2019, Special Counsel Robert Mueller was taking his seat to testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees about his investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 elections and the then president. efforts to obstruct this investigation.
This president was then engaged in a racist smear campaign against four members of Congress of color and spread lies about immigrants and voter fraud.
The first cases of the deadliest pandemic in American history occurred months away. An insurgency against the United States government was still an unimaginable prospect.
From July 20-23, the National Urban League and our network of affiliates and allies are gathering in Washington, D.C., with the country’s most influential voices in government, business, social activism and arts. Our task: to confront the transformation of the political, social and economic landscape of the nation and to chart the course towards a more equitable and resilient society.
The nation is only beginning to deal with the backlash of recent years. The 2022 Conference is an opportunity to highlight and redefine the role of the National Urban League in responding not only to the medical and economic crises caused by the COVID pandemic, but also to the rise of extremism and an attack unprecedented to democracy and civil liberties.
The conference kicked off on Wednesday, July 20 with the Urban League Fights For You rally on civil rights, hate crimes, women’s rights and economic justice at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. The rally sets in motion the relaunch of the Reclaim Your Vote campaign of civic engagement and defense of democracy.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris last addressed Conference as candidates for nation’s highest office; now they lead the administration tasked with lifting the nation out of its current turmoil. High-ranking members of the Biden-Harris administration, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, Census Director Robert L. Santos and the Environmental Protection Agency Environment Michael S. Regan will share their vision for repairing the damage. inflicted by the previous administration and reimagining our national institutions and systems to be more diverse, fair and inclusive.
On the second day of the opening of our final in-person conference — less than a day after Mueller testified about the continued threat of interference in the U.S. election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked at twice introduced legislation to improve election security. Since then, he has repeatedly led filibusters to defeat the right to vote.
Second, we were alarmed that black Americans were being deterred and denied participation in elections.
Now we are alarmed that there will be no more elections to participate in. More than 70 Holocaust deniers are running for state positions that run, oversee, or protect elections. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that could open the door for a state legislature to refuse to certify the results of a presidential election and instead choose its own voters list — just like the plotters of the January 6 insurrection attempted to do so.
It is these extraordinary threats to the foundations of our democracy that we will confront at the Urban League National Conference meeting next week in Washington, DC. To participate virtually, visit our conference website and follow the social media hashtag #NULCONF22.
Morial is President/CEO of the National Urban League.