“Anything is Possible”! This phrase comes to mind when I think about youth activism and involvement in 2011. Over the past several decades’ youth have consistently made change throughout the world, especially when it comes to being at the forefront of the fight for civil rights and social inequalities. It is the youth of the oldest and boldest Civil Rights Organization in the world, who have impacted the entire nation not only by making change, but DEMANDING change.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was formed 102 years ago with a goal of eliminating racism and creating equality and justice for all people. The journey has been extremely challenging and could not have boasted major victories without the involvement of young people. It was youth who provided the energy and enthusiasm to march, sit-in, demonstrate and vocalize the need for all people to be treated with justice and equality. Young adults traveled throughout the South with NAACP leaders to conduct Voter Registration, GOTV Campaigns and joined in the crusade against Lynching.
Thanks to the leadership of Juanita Jackson Mitchell, youth leadership was recognized officially in 1936 by forming a Youth & College Division within the NAACP to continue to address issues of civil rights especially as it related to youth throughout our communities. It is now because of the likes of Chairman Roslyn M. Brock, President/CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, Stefanie Brown, National Field Director of the Youth and College Division, and youth leaders from the coasts of California to the depths of Georgia and the battleground of Ohio, that youth within this great association continue to have their voice heard and stand at the forefront of our battle for equality. NAACP Youth & College members are continuously trained to be leaders in the areas of activism and mobilization.
Today’s youth are moving forward with efforts to deal with issues of education, juvenile justice, legislative priorities, economic empowerment, college funding and so many other challenges affecting our generation currently. Thanks to the training and nurturing of the NAACP, youth are ready and equipped to fight the battles of TODAY and TOMMORROW.
Shayla King is a youth representative to the NAACP Board of Directors. In this capacity, she represents young people in the Midwest Region which includes Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.