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NAACP gathers in Philly with Obama, Bill Clinton: ‘We are in the midst of a civil rights movement now’

At a time when national conversations surrounding police brutality, the Confederate flag and the Emanuel AME murders continue, thousands of people will come to Philadelphia to discuss issues of race — including two presidents.

With the theme “Pursuing Liberty in the Face of Injustice,” the 106th NAACP Convention is taking place this week at the Convention Center, and will include remarks by President Obama on Tuesday afternoon. In addition, thousands of pre-registered guests will join leaders like former President Bill Clinton, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and top NAACP leaders for workshops and speeches through Wednesday.

The more than 8,000 guests expected from the NAACP’s total membership of more-than-a-quarter-million will discuss policing and legislative priorities, and will set their White House agenda for 2016. The organization has said that its thousands of guests in town for just a few days will have an economic impact of more than $10 million for the city.

NAACP Chairwoman Roslyn Brock delivered her remarks Sunday night at the Convention Center, saying that gathering in Philadelphia means liberty must be pursued and “will not be given to us by the enemies of freedom and the ambassadors of evil.”

She added that the NAACP played an integral role in calling for the removal of the Confederate flag at the South Carolina statehouse following the massacre at the AME church in Charleston that killed nine black parishioners. This week at the start of the convention, the NAACP lifted it economic boycott of the state.

“For us, the Confederate Battle flag has never stood for a proud heritage,” she said. “It has always stood for white resistance and supremacy to the humanity and dignity of people of color. And when the alleged perpetrator of the massacre of African-American people committed terrorist acts against Christians in Charleston, and was seen posing with a gun and the Confederate flag, the rest of the country began to understand the depths of our pain.”

NAACP President and CEO Cornell Brooks told CBS Local that the convention came at a good time — the group is discussing how to handle issues facing the black community ranging from Ferguson to Baltimore.

“We are in fact making plans, employing strategies, engaging in campaigns to not only make the news, but make history,” Brooks told the station. “I believe that we are in the midst of a civil rights movement now.”

Major events taking place this week include Obama’s keynote address on Tuesday, which is expected to revolve around issues related to reforming the criminal justice system ahead of his visit to a federal prison (he’s becoming the first sitting president to do so).

A live stream of some events can be found here. Here are the other highlights:

Monday

9:30 a.m. First Plenary Session: NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks will discuss “the role prosecutors are playing in the administration of justice in this country,” according to the NAACP. Also confirmed to be present for the session: U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and U.S. Rep. and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).

2:30 p.m.: Cultivating diversity in the tech industry: Facebook Global Diversity Programs Manager Sonja Gittens Ottley and Google Diversity Evangelist Jewel Burkes will discuss increasing diversity and garnering employment in the tech field. More than 100 people will attend the panel at the Cyber Cafe at the Philadelphia Convention Center.

The rest of the day today will include NAACP committee meetings and luncheons, as well as a number of panels which can be found here.

Tuesday

All day, a career fair will take place in the Convention Center for open networking and job recruitment. These workshops will take place throughout the day:

  • Climate Justice: Energy Democracy: A Policy and Practice Framework for Re-Envisioning How We Power Our Communities
  • Education: Leverage – From Standards to Waivers, Equity Plans, Comparable Resources and More
  • LGBT
  • International Affairs
  • Voting Rights & Election Reform
  • Building Beyond Protests
  • Financial Empowerment
  • Social Media and Activism

Find more information here about those workshops.

3 p.m.: President Obama will deliver remarks centered around reforming the criminal justice system.

Wednesday

9:30 a.m.: Special Plenary Session with details to be announced.

1 p.m.: Labor luncheon with keynote speaker Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees or AFL-CIO.

Evening, time TBD: Newly-confirmed Attorney General Loretta Lynch will deliver remarks.

Follow Billy Penn on Twitter for updates from President Obama’s speech and other highlights.

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