(Columbus, July 31, 2018) — More than 20,000 people, including leaders in the realms of business, politics, entertainment and community, will gather from August 1-4 for the nation’s largest annual civil rights conference when the National Urban League (NUL) Annual Conference convenes at the SMG-managed Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC).

“This will be an epic convention,” said Mike Thompson, vice president of event marketing for NUL. “Columbus is such a walkable city and we will be out in the community during our event.”

“Save Our Cities: Powering the Digital Revolution” is the theme of the conference, which will feature an array of nationally recognized and locally based speakers, including:

  • Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer
  • Tarana Burke, #MeToo Movement founder
  • U.S. Representatives Joyce Beatty and Tim Ryan
  • Andrew J. Ginther, mayor of Columbus
  • Michael B. Coleman, former mayor of Columbus
  • Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce
  • Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin
  • Ohio State Representatives Stephanie Howse and Alicia Reese

The conference will include technology creators and dozens of workshops, including the N.U.L. Experience & Expo, Small Business Matters Entrepreneurship Summit, TechConnect Summit, Career & Network Fair and events targeted for young professionals. There will also be a performance by rhythm & blues singer/songwriter Fantasia during the Whitney M. Young Jr. Awards Gala on Friday evening.

The N.U.L. Experience & Expo will be held in Exhibit Hall B, showcasing more than 100 exhibits offering activities and workshops for the entire family, including TechConnect’s Podcast Village, Career & Networking Fair, Volunteer Zone, Health & Wellness Zone and Back to School Community & Family Day.

The Back to School Community & Family Day on Saturday, August 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Exhibit Halls B and C will be free and open to the public, providing free backpacks and school supplies until the inventory is depleted, free health screenings, live entertainment, free haircuts, farmer’s market bags filled with fresh produce, a free legal clinic and other information and resources.

Founded in 1910, the National Urban League is a premier civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment as a catalyst in elevating the standard of living in historically underserved urban communities. NUL is based in New York City and includes more than 90 affiliates serving 300 communities, including the Columbus Urban League.

“We first began talking with NUL in 2014 about hosting this event. We’re so happy and so proud to have an event of this magnitude produced by an organization with such a rich history and mission coming to our facility,” said Greater Columbus Convention Center General Manager John R. Page.


  • The GCCC venue itself is a cashless facility. This includes all GCCC operated concessions and all in-lane GCCC parking transactions. However, within the GCCC, there are individual contracted vendors and outlets who, at their discretion, may accept cash.