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National Urban League meeting begins in Philly

Updated: July 25, 2013 6:16PM



PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The National Urban League’s four-day conference in Philadelphia focused Thursday on voting rights with a panel discussion and an announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder that the Justice Department will seek new oversight on voting laws in Texas.

About 6,000 people are attending the annual conference at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, which began Wednesday. League President Marc Morial said the conference, called Redeem the Dream: Jobs Rebuild America, is focusing on increasing economic opportunities for African-Americans. The conference will also feature a career fair and networking events, as well as discussions with the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

On Thursday, MSNBC’s Craig Melvin led a panel discussion on voting rights with members of the ACLU, the NAACP and the National Coalition on Black Civil Participation. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder also announced the Justice Department will ask a federal court in Texas to make the state get approval in advance before changing its voting laws and practices.

The audience rose to applaud the announcement. Vincent Alexander, a 26-year-old who came from Nashville, Tenn., to attend the conference, said after the speech that he’s glad to see the federal government addressing the issue.

“That’s what elected officials are for,” Alexander said. “That’s what voting is all about.”

The league’s conference comes while many organizations across the nation are reflecting on civil rights after the Supreme Court ruling that dealt a major setback to the Voting Rights Act, and the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the February 2012 shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

In Philadelphia, the nonprofit civil engagement group Global Citizen will host its fifth annual Beer Summit on Thursday. The group has hosted the annual discussion on race relations since 2009 when President Barack Obama invited Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates to the White House for a beer with a police officer in Massachusetts who had arrested Gates.

The National Urban League’s conference will end Saturday.



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