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The 2019 National Action Network (NAN) convention will draw nearly a dozen 2020 presidential candidates to the annual gathering, which gives them an opportunity to make their case to Black voters. It runs from April 3 – April 6.

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This gives folks a chance to hear the candidates speak directly to them about issues that impact the Black community ahead of the first 2020 Democratic presidential primary debate that’s slated for June 2019.

“Donald Trump has injected a lot of noise into American politics,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, president and founder of NAN. “Our annual convention exists to cut through the noise and focus on the issues and policies that truly affect Black America and the civil rights community by inviting local and national politicians and leaders to help foster policy discussions that lead to innovative solutions.”

Presidential contenders addressing the convention will include Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Kamala Harris (D-California), Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-Indiana), former secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro (D-Texas), Rep. John Delaney (D-Maryland), former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

Political analysts view winning the Black vote as essential to a primary victory and beating President Trump. In 2016, Black turnout fell in cities with large African-Amerian populations, such as Milwaukee, Detroit, and Philadelphia, in states Hillary Clinton lost.

“You see the candidates centering these issues of racial justice. That just didn’t happen in 2016 in the same way,” Adrianne Shropshire, the executive director of BlackPAC, a super PAC founded in 2016 to engage Black voters, told NPR.

Interestingly, embracing reparations–compensation to the descendants of slaves and those harmed by discriminatory public policies like Jim Crow laws—has emerged as an issue of focus for several candidates: Sens. Harris, Booker, Warren and Castro—Sanders, not so much.

In addition to the presidential candidates, appearances from Stacey Abrams and New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were also scheduled.

Founded in 1991, NAN has become one of the leading civil rights organizations in the nation with chapters throughout the country. A schedule of events is posted on NAN’s website. Registration to the convention is free and open to the public. There will be a livestream for those unable to attend.


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