Young people increasingly relevant in these times, say local leaders; group will hold kickoff event this weekend
Published : Friday, October 5, 2018 | 1:59 PM
While organizations like Black Lives Matter harvest headlines and react instantly to the national civil rights conversation, the NAACP has been less successful in attracting African-American “millennials.”
The reasons are clear, say many observers.
The organization’s antiquated name itself (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is a turn-off. And its legacy reactions to police shootings and racial injustice don’t capture the in-the-streets approach that resonates with youth.
“At this point,” former Pasadena NAACP president Joe Brown said last week, “younger generations really don’t hear too much of what we have to say because we are a little bit antiquated in our thinking.”
A second former NAACP Pasadena President, Gary Moody, seemed to agree.
“Some of our national organizations that have been around for close to 100 years, [and] find it very hard to change, especially in certain situations involving this technological evolution and revolution.”
“It takes a new breed,” added Moody, “and a new generation of innovation to bring some of these iconic organizations up to speed and the NAACP is right in the midst of trying to make that transition on a lot of levels.”
That could happen soon. Enter the NAACP Pasadena’s Young Adult Council.
“Young people are still interested,” said Nicole Bernard, who along with other young students is organizing the new NAACP group in Pasadena. The council will hold its “Fall Kickoff” meeting this weekend. The event will feature food, community speakers and resources.
As Bernard explained, “I think it’s important for us to show that the NAACP continues to cater to our youth and our young adults and we’re here as a resource. We’re just another avenue to get it locally in your community about important issues.”
The group has two initial objectives— improving education and improving the relationship between local police officers and the community, she said.
“We’re working on just continuing to improve the relationship between police officers,” Bernard explained. “We want to continue to encourage youth and young adults to get involved in their community, whether it’s through elections, or policy, and we really believe in just being a change that we want to see in the community.”
According to Bernard, the group has already met with some new police officers.
“By new,” said Bernard, “we mean those officers who have less than five years of experience on the force. We thought that that was important because those are the officers that are going to be here long term, but they’re newer to the community and they don’t necessarily have a reputation in the community. So like it’s important for them to help them establish that.”
Current NAACP Pasadena President Delano Yarborough agrees that young people can also connect with senior citizens.
“We can provide a vehicle for that to occur in ways that mutual respect and communication can occur across the age span,” said Yarborough.
“Many seniors are reluctant to use technology and many — [in] particular those that are in senior housing — don’t have much contact with younger people,” he said. “Younger people can actually show them how they can communicate with relatives and in Spanish, using the technology. They can do it for them.”
“We can also have the young people to collect oral history from the seniors,” Yarborough added.
Councilmember John Kennedy also noted the increasing relevance of youth in the community, as the nation’s population ages.
“We need younger people to step forward as well to assist those who are in the work-a-day world and those retired volunteers who really work very hard to keep the doors of the organization open on a daily basis,” said Kennedy.
The NAACP Fall Youth Kickoff will take place Saturday, October 6, at 595 Lincoln Avenue, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.