Hugh B. Price, president of the National Urban League, released a statement explaining the group's reversal of plans to hold its 2003 conference in Cincinnati. Please find a few excerpts below.
When we announced last week that we were coming, we indicated that the sole reason for doing so was because we planned to stage a conference that would take a tough-minded and objective look at how Cincinnati was doing in the aftermath of the tragic police incidents and outbreak of civil unrest last year.
We intended to structure the conference sessions as report cards, if you will, evaluating whether the city was living up to its promises to reform police policy and practice and put an end to police brutality, racial profiling and unjustified use of deadly force, and whether the city had begun closing the gaps in education, unemployment, affordable housing, and economic opportunity.
We believed that by staging a conference that was organized in this way, we could help the advance the cause of opportunity, equality and justice for our people in Cincinnati and around the country.
However it has become evident to us that a conference formatted as a 'report card' on Cincinnati's progress - or lack thereof -- wouldn't exactly be welcome in some quarters. What's more, local groups calling for a boycott of the city don't want any kind of Urban League conference coming to the city, even if it's focused on an agenda of opportunity, equality and justice for African Americans in Cincinnati.
The prospect of pickets at local and national Urban League offices and events is utterly unacceptable because it would intrude on our movement's critically important work to promote academic achievement, economic opportunity and civil rights for black people, in Cincinnati and across the country, who remain on the outside of the American mainstream looking in."
We believed last week, as we do now, that our annual conference could have been helpful to community groups and to the city. But clearly the local climate and timing aren't right for the kind of convention we envisioned. Therefore we have decided today to withdraw our 2003 annual conference from Cincinnati.