NAACP informing people on minority issues

Kyara Morales-Rodriguez, Campus Reporter

Founded on Feb. 12, 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, more popularly known as NAACP, became the oldest civil rights organization in the United States. Ever since then, the organization has focused on advancing justice for African Americans across the United States. The organization is famously known for fighting lawsuits that have shaped our nation to this day, such as Brown v. The Board of Education.

Since that day in 1909, NAACP has branched out, with the United States having thousands of chapters across the country. Eastern has its very own chapter of NAACP, with Eastern’s chapter of NAACP Youth and College Division #3717 being very active to this day.

As Sihile Mwalongo, a junior economics major and president of NAACP said, the organization’s mission is to inform the youth of the problems affecting African Americans and other racial and eth-nic minorities.

“[Our mission is] to advance the economic, educational, social and political status of African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities and their harmonious cooperation with other peoples,” Mwalongo said. “To stimulate an appreciation of the African Diaspora and other people of color’s contribution to civilization; and to develop an intelligent, militant effective youth leadership.”

Ian Davis, a senior exercise science student and NAACP’s historian, further explained that NAACP’s focus is to encourage and uplift members of minority communities on campus. The organization achieves that by creating a safe environment for people to join in on important discussions that may not be talked about elsewhere.

Due to the regulations set to prevent the spread of COVID, the NAACP holds their weekly meetings on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. via Zoom.

Aaliyah James, sophomore business administration student and treasurer of NAACP, said that meetings typically start with an ice breaker, then move into a discussion-based meeting.

“Our discussions create a respectful and safe space to voice different opinions,” James said.

Mwalongo also said that those meetings create a space to talk about issues affecting the Black and minorities communities that the organization believes the campus should hear more about.

“We want students to take valuable information from our meetings, but we also create a safe space for students to speak on these issues and have a place to have their voices heard. It’s also a great networking opportunity when it comes to meeting different students who are a part of other organizations too,” Mwalongo said.

Kayla Crowder, a sophomore political science student and NAACP’s parliamentarian, said NAACP is also known for hosting many fun and educational events on campus.

“Eastern’s NAACP does events such as voter registration and participation, watch parties and events that help us give back such as writing letters to veterans,” Crowder said. “In the past, Eastern’s NAACP has also done events such Sneaker Balls/Image Awards and Valentine’s Day events.”

Prior to COVID, the organization also held other events including bake sales, collaborations with other organizations on and off campus, dating auctions, and volunteer events at local food banks and schools. Some of the biggest events NAACP has done are the Voter’s Week events and the Sneaker Ball/Image Awards event.

The NAACP Voter’s Week events centered around the importance of voting and providing information about voting registration drives and political candidates. The Sneaker Ball/Imagine Awards was an event that recognized the achievements of Black and minority members of our Eastern community by giving them awards.

“Shameless plug, but we will be having an Image Awards this year on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. so look out for fliers on campus and on our social media,” Mwalongo said.

Because of COVID, NAACP has not been able to host meetings and events like in years past. COVID has also affected NAACP by making it harder for people to participate in meetings and events. The organization has made some real adjustments to protect the community while still being active members of it.

For example, the organization has made use of its social media platforms to continue interacting with members of the community and keeping people updated on upcoming events and meetings.

“As an organization, we have made different steps to adjust to the different guidelines. It has been slightly difficult because some events we want to do are restricted at the moment or cannot be done online,” James said.

The organization has found ways to continue hosting fun and educational events for the community.

“So far this school year, our organization has done events such as public Q&As about what, as youth, our vote and political awareness means to us and to society. We also have had voters’ game nights and adopt-a-family events during the holidays. Many of our events have been modified to keep everyone safe, but we have still been able to be active and leave an impact, not only our campus, but the community also,” Crowder said.

Being members of NAACP has had a positive impact on many of the organization’s members, allowing them to advocate for the changes they want to see in the world and educate the community on important issues.

“Being a member of NAACP feels empowering to me being able to create and bring my thoughts to people of our campus community,” Davis said.

Though the organization was originally created for Black people, James believes that NAACP’s goal is to help create a society that is without discrimination based on race for all affected by it. She explained that NAACP’s purpose is to help all people achieve equality.

“I realized I had very strong feelings about the many injustices that African American people face in America, but I was stuck in a place where I felt powerless regarding these issues. By joining the NAACP, I am making my first steps to help advocate for equality and change for my people,” James said. “My advice to others that feel powerless is to start. Even if it’s something you might feel is too small to do and it won’t make a difference, just start and soon you’ll be able to make larger steps towards equality for all.”

The NAACP looks forward to the great things it has planned for the future and cannot wait to share that experience with everyone in our community. If anybody is interested in learning more about NAACP, they can check out the organization’s Instagram page @naacpeiu.

 

Kyara Morales-Rodriguez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]