The 114th annual convention of the NAACP officially starts in Boston Wednesday, with a roster of high-profile speakers over the coming days.
The country's oldest and largest civil rights organization is gathering in the city for the first time in over 40 years.
"This is a big moment for all of us," NAACP Boston branch President Tanisha Sullivan said in an interview. "We're deeply committed to ensuring that this convention isn't just an event, but that it does have real impact on the public policies that we advance here in the commonwealth."
Organizers estimate the convention will bring about 10,000 people to the city. NAACP delegates gather every year to vote on policy platforms and attend sessions headlined by national politicians, advocates, artists and sports icons.
This year's convention features talks by Vice President Kamala Harris, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., and rapper Meek Mill.
A designated area of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center will also be free and open to the public. Organizers say anybody is welcome to stop by "The Hub" for live music, food and games.
The NAACP Boston branch has spent years planning the event. The city had been scheduled to host the convention in 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the in-person event.
Sullivan said she hopes the gathering creates impact that lasts into the future.
She said the event planners awarded 90% of their contracts for things like food and transportation to businesses owned by women or people of color.
"These businesses have the opportunity to participate in conventions going forward — not just the NAACP convention, but any convention that comes to Boston," she said.