The State of the Black World Conference will bring a who's who of African-American scholars, orators, church leaders and organizers to New Orleans for the five-day event at the Astor Crowne Plaza and the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
The conference -- featuring notables including Urban League president and former New Orleans mayor Marc Morial, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and actor Danny Glover -- is generally limited to paid registrants.
Three events, however, are open to the public: a free National Town Hall Meeting on Thursday night; a ticketed musical and spoken-word concert and awards ceremony Saturday evening; and a ticketed address by Minister Louis Farrakhan for the conference's concluding session Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
Tickets for the concert and Farrakhan speech will be sold at the Convention Center.
Convened by the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, a progressive "African-centered, action-oriented" think tank in New York led by scholar-activist Ron Daniels, the conference will assemble a federal agenda of issues critical to black and urban communities, in the wake of President-elect Barack Obama's historic victory.
"We deliberately came to New Orleans because it's a city in need of recovery and one that was neglected by the prior administration, " Daniels said, but it's a metaphor for what's been happening in other urban areas, like Bronx County, N.Y., the birthplace of hip hop, he said, where nearly half of black and Hispanic young men are out of work.
The conference will consider specific and practical solutions to problems facing education, the economy and criminal justice, he said, and will also zero in on what he called "internal" solutions: "what we can do in the African-American community that doesn't need legislation."
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