The National Urban League will invite Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to Baltimore in August to address issues challenging American cities at its annual convention, the group's president said Friday.
Marc H. Morial, the league president, said the annual conference typically features top presidential candidates. Neither of this year's presumptive nominees has confirmed attendance, he said.
"We made the decision to come to Baltimore after the Freddie Gray incident," Morial said in a meeting with editors at The Baltimore Sun. "We made a deliberate decision to come here and help rebuild and heal the community. A big part of the conference is talking about the great challenges urban communities and people of color face."
The conference will be held Aug. 3-6 at the Baltimore Convention Center.
Incidents such as the arrest and in-custody death of Gray, sparking rioting and looting, highlight disparities in education and jobs as well as the friction between police and communities, Morial said.
The 106-year-old organization hopes to influence domestic policy by showcasing urban challenges and solutions, Morial said. The goal is to promote ways to improve economic conditions for struggling communities.
Candidates have come in the past, not to "talk trash, but talk real" about their ideas, Morial said.
Mitt Romney, the GOP nominee in 2012, did not attend. The organization's annual conference featured both the Republican and Democratic nominees in 2004 and 2008, as it has historically.
Clinton attended the conference last year in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., along with four other presidential candidates. Trump did not attend.
Morial declined to speculate as to whether Trump would attend this year. He noted that the group is nonpartisan.
Other featured guests and speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.
Organizers want to draw community members by hosting a series of activities, including free health screenings, live entertainment, a career expo and small-business summit.
The event also will feature seminars with political and business leaders and celebrities.
"We're not a fly-by, helicopter-in type of conference," Morial said. "When we come in, we want to have an impact. We want the community to be engaged."
The Urban League's Youth Leadership Summit is being held in Baltimore through Sunday.
About 450 people are participating in the summit at Coppin State University. The event, aimed at immersing young people in a college setting, features a youth town hall, tips on healthy relationships and a look at Baltimore's history from an African-American perspective.