By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The National Urban League brings its Save Our Cities National Conference to Baltimore.

The decision to bring the conference here is a direct result of the unrest in Baltimore last year, WJZ’s Pat Warren reports.

The Civil Rights and Economic Empowerment Urban League is holding its conference here at the request of the mayor.

On Wednesday, the mayor had a hand in assembling back to school backpacks for Saturday’s community and family day at the convention.

“I think it’s a perfect time for them to be here,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake.

The Urban League expects more than 10,000 people to attend the convention, filling 6,000 hotel rooms, and an overall economic impact of $10 million to $15 million.

Reporter: “Let’s talk about the trouble we had in Baltimore last year — did that discourage you in any way from having the convention here?”

Urban League: “No, it encouraged us to have the convention here because of our mission and because of our work. We want to be where challenges are.”

Challenges that are not unique to Baltimore.

“Whether it’s job creation, workforce development, criminal justice issues, police-community relations, all of these things, we’ll be able to discuss and have the national stage here in Baltimore,” said Rawlings-Blake.

One session will focus directly on Freddie Gray.

The conference opened Wednesday at Shiloh Baptist Church, with a keynote address on race and economic equity. Shiloh was the scene of Freddie Gray’s funeral.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine will speak Thursday. Both the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were invited. Both declined.

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