Columbus, OH – The presidential candidates will both speak at the 99th annual NAACP convention in Cincinnati this week. Democratic Barack Obama plans to address the convention Monday night, while Republican John McCain speaks on Wednesday.
The first large gathering at the convention took place last night, with the NAACP board chairman and veteran civil rights leader Julian Bond stressing the need for change in Washington.
"We need to redeem the promise of our government. We need to reclaim our democracy to all, not for oil. We need to put mutual obligations over mutual funds. We need to put the public interest over private wealth," Bond told the crowd.
Bond also challenged his members to encourage more participation in the election.
"This is our patriotic duty to register as many voters as possible and to get them to the polls. We vow to answer that call to duty," Bond said.
"We are encouraged that the 2008 turnout saw across the board increases in primary voter turnout. Blacks and youths increased their share of the Democratic primary electorate by 25 percent over two years earlier," he said.
Bond says his organization will not endorse a candidate, but members are looking forward to hearing from Obama, the man on track to become a major party's first black presidential nominee.
Obama will make his case directly to the civil rights group days after a microphone picked up Reverend Jesse Jackson complaining that Obama hasn't done enough to appeal to black voters.