This week, the NAACP’s 108th Annual Convention took place in Baltimore, MD.
With the theme “steadfast and immovable” setting the tone for the business at hand, attendees quickly realized that this convening was rooted in purpose and urgency.
Politicians, humanitarians, civil rights leaders, youth advocates, and concerned people of color united under one roof to discuss the state of black America.
Attendees and speakers drawn to the convention included the likes of 82nd Attorney General The Honorable Eric H. Holder, The Honorable Kamala Harris, Esteemed author, life coach and attorney, Iyanla Vanzant, Black Lives Matter supporter and Zero Campaign originator and civil rights advocate Deray McKesson, CNN political strategist and former National Press Secretary to Bernie Sanders- Symone D. Sanders, NAACP WIN Director Dr. Thelma T. Daley, National Urban League Young Professionals President Carlos Clanton, former national chair of the Black Youth Project Jessica Pierce, activist Tamika D. Mallory, interim NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, recording artist Lil’ Mama, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz Esq., CEO Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Kristen Clarke Esq., Legal Director for the Human Rights Campaign Sarah Warbelow, Esq., former national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Cynthia M.A. Butler-McIntyre, The Honorable Robin Kelly, MD Senator The Honorable Chris Van Hollen, The Honorable Jewell Jones, Larry King, The Honorable Ben Cardin, The Honorable Cory Booker, The Honorable the Honorable Tammy Duckworth, the Honorable Nanette Barragan, the Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, The Honorable Cedric Richmond, The Honorable Robert “Bobby” Scott, The Honorable Scott Taylor, and Mr. Hilary O. Shelton.
Congressmen and women urged NAACP members and convention attendees to understand the power of their voice and their vote. Collegiate chapters showed up with busloads of youth who, despite not being legal by law, were well-aware of their rights and of their power. In fact, when 27-year-old political trailblazer, CNN political strategist and former National Press Secretary to Bernie Sanders, Symone D. Sanders took the podium at the Juanita Jackson Mitchell Freedom Gala, she brought the entire room to its feet within a matter of minutes reemphasizing that we aren’t fighting fo
r a seat at the table, we stand on the shoulder of giants who already did that. Sanders shared anecdotes supporting that it would be inaccurate to say that we, today, in this moment, are fighting for a seat at the table. She specifically addressed her fellow millennials saying
“I know there are many many times when we have been told to keep our heads down, work really really hard , stay focused, raised and someone will recognize our efforts and our work. Well, brothers and sisters I am here to tell you that I don’t necessarily subscribe to that philosophy.” she continued “sometimes we are the best people in the room, presenting the absolute, most amazing product. We are the smartest, the best, the brightest, the fastest, and sometimes the people still don’t pick us.”
She reminded those in attendance that despite having a seat at the table, we need to effectively use that seat.
“We must be Doers! We need urgency. The time is now, right now.”
It brought great joy to know that the NAACP Youth & College National Coordinator, Anthony Davis. Jr, hails from none other than Morehouse College, graduating just last year. In a meeting, Davis shared:
“We need our collegiate chapters more than ever. I am not sure why at HBCUs, our chapters are not as engaged, but we need to change that.”
Our staff at HBCU Buzz is determined to do something about improving the collegiate engagement of an organization so pivotal to our success as historic, black institutions of higher learning.
As it has done for the past 107 years, the NAACP can now close out the chapter on another amazing, riveting, life-changing convention that certainly planted seeds for change, nurtured seeds already planted in our trailblazing youth, and tended fertile ground for policy reform, political advancement, and civil rights engagement.