ATLANTIC CITY — The theme will be “This is Power.” And the setting will be Atlantic City in July.

National leaders of the NAACP were at the seaside resort Thursday inside historic Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall to give details of the 113th National Convention that will be held July 14 to July 20 in Atlantic City, the first in-person national convention the Civil Rights Organization since 2019.

NAACP president Derrick Johnson promised the convention would take on the toughest issues facing Black America, and not fall into the traps of “us versus us” infighting, cliches or distractions.

“The question on the table now is the question of equity,” Johnson said. “Anything that takes us away from the question is a distraction, and we should get caught up in fake arguments around critical race theory that many of us never heard about just a year ago.”

He dismissed any idea that the historic NAACP is in competition with the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Movements are intergenerational,” he said. “We don’t have time for an us vs. us proposition. Power is all of us standing together. Social justice isn’t a competition. The construct of race and racism is all about power. Who’s included and who’s not.”

Organizers said President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have both been invited to speak. Confirmed speakers will include South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, who will be receiving an award, and Ray Curry, president of the United Automobile Workers union, will be a keynote speaker.

Local leaders have been working for three years to bring the national convention to Atlantic City, which last hosted the organization in 1955, and was famously the setting for the 1964 Democratic National Convention.

The history of those two prior conventions in Atlantic City was in the air on Thursday: 1964, when the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party protested the lack of Black representation in the state delegation. It was in the same Boardwalk Hall where Fannie Lou Hamer famously told the credentials committee, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

And in 1955, when the NAACP held its national convention at Atlantic City High School, former NAACP president Hazel Dukes, 90, recalled during the Thursday press conference that the FBI was on hand when a sea of white rats were released onto the floor during the annual awards dinner.

“The FBI came because this white supremacist group, we believe they turned those white rats [loose] at our annual dinner,” Dukes said. “During the dinner, people started to see white rats running. Somebody must have known because the FBI was here during our convention.“

“We’re gonna run some rats out of Washington D.C. and other places,” said Leon Russell, NAACP national board chairman, during the press conference.

At a fraught time in the nation’s history, leaders of the historic civil rights organization said the convention will bring people together to seek solutions to Black America’s most pressing issues: voting and reproductive rights, student debt, police reform, and environmental justice.

The goal of the convention is to determine the NAACP’s policy agenda priorities for 2022-23, officials said.

For Atlantic City, the meeting represents a hopefully-welcome moment in the spotlight and a triumph for local NAACP leaders who have been lobbying to host the national convention for years. Casinos have reserved room blocks for the delegates, despite the convention being in held at the height of the summer season.

A projected 8.000 to 11,000 people are expected to attend, representing 7,000 room nights and about $10 million in economic impact, officials said.

“I’m going to tell you this as mayor,” said Mayor Marty Small Sr. “One thing Atlantic City knows how to do is party. You’re going to be pleasantly surprised. We’re going to set the tone for future NAACP conventions.”

Atlantic City Councilman Kaleem Shabazz, who is president of the local NAACP chapter, thanked the national leaders for taking a chance on Atlantic City.

“Thank you all for believing in Atlantic City,” said Shabazz, looking a bit amazed to see three years of work coming to fruition with an array of national civil rights leaders all gathered in Boardwalk Hall. He joked that Mayor Small would have to vouch for him when he told the story the next time they were at their local barber shop.

“We are so so happy to have you here,” he said. “Atlantic City is going to show up and show out. I guarantee you, I guarantee you, I guarantee you.”

Gov. Murphy, a former national board member of the NAACP, said the state was ready to highlight efforts “every day to create a state that embodies racial, social and economic justice.

“Our state’s role in the historic fight for equality is one we hold dear and which also deserves its time in the spotlight,” he said.

To that end, Atlantic City historian Ralph Hunter Sr., the founder of the city’s African American Museum, said four special exhibits would be brought to the convention. Shabazz said a brochure of Black-owned businesses in Atlantic City would be created to encourage people to spend money there. And he said 300 young people in Atlantic City would be recruited to be involved in the Convention.

Veronica Norris, of the Philadelphia NAACP chapter. said a contingent of Philly youth would be competing in the convention’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO).

Atlantic City’s last big national political hosting duties in 1964, when the Democratic National Convention was held at Boardwalk Hall, shed some unwelcome light on a decaying resort town, but history was made when Fanny Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom delegation protested the credentials committee for more Black representation.

The broadcast of the hearing - complete with crying members of the credentials committee - was cut short by an unrelated bulletin from President Lyndon Johnson, who feared the controversy would upend his desire for party unity and cost him votes with white Southern Democrats.

» READ MORE: Mississippi Freedom delegate Emma Sanders remembers turbulent 1964 in Atlantic City

Dukes noted, of Hamer, that “Before any white feminists took over, she made headlines.”

The NAACP convention will begin Thursday July 14th and run through Sunday July 20. In addition to policy workshops and appearances by prominent national leaders, there will be awards ceremonies, a youth culinary competition, social events throughout Atlantic City and the “NAACP Experience,” exhibit.

Dukes and the other leaders urged people to attend the convention, which is open to the public. “Go out and tell the world to look at this old ship of Zion,” Dukes said. “The baton is in our hands. See what legacy we are going to leave. It’s what we do in this space and in this town. Use that power. We can show America, we’re not going anywhere. We’re not going to fall for it. We’re going to have our fair share.”