Saturday, July 20, 2002

Urban League's Adams regrets lost convention

By Kevin Aldridge,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Sheila Adams, president of the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati, said Friday she would not have chosen to pull the National Urban League's 5,000-delegate convention from Cincinnati in 2003, but it wasn't her call.

        “I understand the decision by the National Urban League and CEO Hugh Price and respect their right and reasons, but I'm deeply disappointed,” she said, four days after the cancellation. “We all lose by their withdrawal.”

        While preparing to attend the Urban League's national conference in Los Angeles next week, Ms. Adams is still struggling to shake off the loss of the convention here. Bringing the national convention to Cincinnati was viewed as a major accomplishment for Ms. Adams, because the group's meeting is usually reserved for larger cities, such as New York and Los Angeles.

        Mr. Price said Monday the organization would not hold its 2003 meeting in Cincinnati. He cited the suspension of Cincinnati Police Lt. Col. Ron Twitty and the prospect of protests at affiliate offices as reasons for the decision.

        The announcement came just four days after the predominantly African-American civil-rights organization affirmed its original decision to hold its annual meeting in Cincinnati. Ms. Adams said she was consulted about the move, but did not have the final say.

        The August 2003 convention was one of the largest of 75 booked at the downtown Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center over the next two years. It was expected to generate $3.4 million to $4.3 million for downtown shops, restaurants and hotels. Mr. Price's about-face in Cincinnati is expected to be a hot topic of conversation at the Urban League's national convention in California, which begins a week from today.

        The Rev. Damon Lynch III, leader of the Cincinnati Black United Front, a boycott group, said Friday he had no comment on Ms. Adams' remarks. The year-old boycott, which appeared to be waning in recent weeks, got a considerable boost from the Urban League's cancellation.

        Ms. Adams said the loss of the convention signals a need for the total community to come together to work for positive change.

        She said the Urban League will continue its 52-year mission of working toward economic self-sufficiency and racial inclusion .


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