HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For the first time since 1999, Houston will play host to one of the nation's largest civil rights and social justice events, and you can get a free seat at the table.
Leaders from across the country will gather downtown beginning July 26 for the National Urban League Conference, where speakers and attendees will confront challenges facing our Black community.
"It's been a long time coming," said Houston Area Urban League president Judson Robinson.
After a previous setback due to COVID-19, more than 15,000 attendees are expected at Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center come month's end.
Robinson said the timing couldn't be better.
"We are very engaged, probably even more so now than we were 24 years ago," Robinson said. "There may have been a bit more empathy (back then), to try to work with communities who may have been marginalized. I think that now is a good time to have that discussion. Are we better? Are we really going the extra mile to walk in each other's shoes?"
As part of the three-day conference, the National Urban League will present a free Community & Family Day Expo, featuring entertainment and free community resources.
More than 10,000 backpacks stuffed with school supplies will be given away to students in need, in addition to free health screenings, a legal clinic, and a college fair featuring more than 60 colleges and universities.
A marketplace featuring Black-owned businesses, a business pitch competition and more will also unfold during the Saturday expo.
"One thing that we want the community to take away from this conference is that there's an opportunity for everyone to work towards becoming financially stable," said Rommell Williams, Houston Area Urban League's director of workforce development and training. "This is not only for them, but also for their children."
For a full schedule of expo events, you can check out the National Urban League website.
The George R. Brown Convention Center is located at 1001 Avenida De Las Americas, in Downtown Houston.