Over 10,000 people have signed up the for the National Urban League’s 98th convention which opened Wednesday night in Orlando Florida. “It is time for our nation to change its priorities,” said Marc Morial at the opeing session as reported in this morning’s Orlando Sentinel. “We are at a crossroads. We want a plan from the next president of the United States.”

The conference is being held under the theme, “Get, Go, Grow” and will focus on the need for developing an urban agenda. African Americans, living largely in inner cities have been severely hit by the emerging recession. The need for public housing is near the top of the list according to Morial. In this regard, the Afro American Zenitha Prince reports that Morial said,

“We clearly need a new plan for public housing in this country. A lot of public housing has been torn down; many, many units have not been rebuilt,” Morial said. “One of the underlying reasons for the sub prime crisis is that people bought houses that were more expensive than they could afford and the reason is that there were no other alternatives. So, we have to focus on the affordability of housing and [the Department of Housing and Urban Development] needs to lead the way.”

Enforcement of civil rights is another big issue for the Urban League leader “Civil rights enforcement Jena – was a perfect example of that – we need a commitment from the Justice Department under the new president to enforce civil rights laws,” said the NUL president, writes the Afro American.

The conference will also highlight the plight of Black women who were the focus of the Urban League’s 2008 State of Black America Report and who have been particularly effected by the sub-prime housing crisis.

Both John McCain and Barack Obama are expected to address the gathering, with the Republican speaking on Friday, followed by the Democratic presumptive the next day. McCain who has recently gone extremely negative on Obama, backtracked on supporting affirmative action last week under right-wing preassure and is likely to face tough questioning from the audience.

Andrew Young and others are expected to address the gathering.