cincinnati_mayor_mark_mallory.jpgCINCINNATI (AP) _ National leaders came to Cincinnati this weekend to start the annual NAACP convention in a city that became a focal point for the nation's concerns about race relations in 2001.

City leaders say they have made progress and are ready for national attention after riots followed a fatal shooting of an unarmed black man who ran from a white police officer trying to make an arrest.

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory says the annual NAACP convention that opened Saturday in Cincinnati can be a showcase of improved race relations.

Mallory in 2005 became the city's first directly elected black mayor.

The NAACP gathering will have more than 8,000 delegates. Speakers in the week ahead include Democrat Barack Obama and his Republican presidential rival John McCain.

Pictured above is Cincinnati Mayor Mark  Mallory.