Signature Boston Blog
Multicultural Meetings in Boston, Including NAACP 2023, Drive Systemic Change

As we learn from the past while looking to the future, we are reminded that change-making, multicultural groups have been, and will continue to be, a big part of how Boston is shaped. Let's reflect on the sights and sounds from the 114th NAACP National Convention, hosted at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC), plus other groups choosing Boston to convene and continue the work toward systemic change.

A Look Back: NAACP’s 114th National Convention Highlights Communities Thriving Together

Roughly 10,000 delegates and many more observers, visitors, and community members gathered for the NAACP 114th National Convention at the BCEC. Vice President Kamala Harris and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu were among distinguished guests in a week that emphasized communities Thriving Together.

Harris delivered remarks as the featured speaker of the convention, which spanned July 26–August 1 and built momentum through public festivities over the weekend.

”We know every day we must be vigilant in protecting that which we have achieved, and keeping our eyes on ... our collective vision of how we continue to strengthen our nation,” Harris said.

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Vice President Kamala Harris speaking at the 114th NAACP National Convention at the BCEC

Workshops and conversations tackled key issues surrounding this year’s convention: racial justice, health & wellbeing, environmental climate justice, economic inclusivity, education, next generation leadership, and advocacy & litigation. Ultimately, NAACP delegates approved policy priorities including antiracist education and economic investments in underserved communities.

Prominent public figures helped bring light to these issues as well. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Grammy-nominated rapper Meek Mill, along with Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and NAACP president and chief executive Derrick Johnson, participated together in a moderated discussion on racism and antisemitism.

“We need people not to be silent, when they see [hate] against any minority, whether [they] be Jewish, Black, gay, Asian, Muslim — whatever it may be — we have to push back to keep the values of this country strong,” Kraft said.

Panel discussion on racism and antisemitism

Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey gave a roughly 14-minute speech on diversity, inclusion, and civil rights prior to the discussion.

“At this time, in this moment, you are in the right place to fight back, you are in the right place to move forward and advance the cause of freedom,” Healey said.

The Hub – ‘The center of all Black community engagement in Boston’

The NAACP welcomed the public throughout the weekend to The Hub, a free experience the NAACP described as “the intersection of Black culture and social impact.”

The Hub festivities kicked off with an evening Block Party, where Wu, in her welcome address, shared her experience and the positive impact the NAACP has had on her family.

“My family and so many others were able to come to this country and raise families because of generations of Black leaders,” Wu said. “Leaders who gave their lives for freedom and justice for everyone.”

DJ Jazzy Jeff later took the stage to the crowd’s roar, spinning music that got attendees up and dancing. In addition to the Block Party, The Hub offered a Retail Lab highlighting Black-owned businesses, a Career Summit networking opportunity, a discussion on mental health, and live music and giveaways.

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DJ Jazzy Jeff at The Hub Block Party

Youth Movement: GenZ Gets Involved

Among those on the exhibit floor were plenty of youth and young adults, an area of emphasis for the NAACP. To help keep the next generation engaged, the convention featured youth-specific programming and workshops all week. The Afro-Academic Culture, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) were on display all weekend, with STEM projects, arts, and culinary works among the projects showcased.

Gen Z Culture Talk

ACT-SO also partnered with the NAACP’s Youth + College Division in a joint event – GenZ Culture Talk, a collection of four workshops focused on the essence and future of the culture. Young people participated in a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) workshop, intimate barbershop/salon-style conversations, and a breakout space for environmental climate justice enthusiasts.

A Lineage of Change-Makers

The NAACP convention was also an opportunity for visitors to learn about the thriving communities throughout the city. During the week, NAACP branch leaders visited Dorcester, Roxbury, and Mattapan, hearing the history and seeing the current successes within these majority-Black neighborhoods.

“Black excellence isn’t just going to a convention downtown in the Seaport,” Tanisha Sullivan, the Boston NAACP president, said at Freedom House, a Dorchester nonprofit. “This is Black excellence right here.”

The convention and associated events proved a victory for all committed to equality.

“We feel really good about the outcome,” Sullivan said. “I’m hopeful that as a result of this convention there are people who will give Boston a second look.”

Boston has a history of hosting prominent multicultural groups at the BCEC and Hynes, ranging from local celebrations to influential national associations. The lineage of thought-leaders and advocates includes:

  • Urban League
  • Blacks in Government
  • National Society of Black Engineers
  • Steppin’ Out for The Dimock Center
  • Ebony Winter Gala
  • Boston While Black
  • Black Expo
  • Many more advocates
32nd Annual Steppin Out Gala
Steppin' Out for The Dimock Center 32nd Annual Gala

Boston’s convention centers welcome thought leaders, advocates, and makers of change for revolutionary work pushing generational progress. Whether you’re gathering 100 or 25,000, we can tailor our BCEC or Hynes spaces to meet your needs. From local association meetings and fundraising galas to international conventions, we offer size-tailored, inclusive spaces where advocacy inspires action.

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