As the Sampson County Branch of the NAACP gets underway for 2017, there will be a renewed emphasis on involving young people—middle and high school students and college students—in helping to establish the local NAACP Youth Council. According to the local branch leaders, “the emphasis on recruiting youth will help in building a stronger leadership base for the future, thus helping to move the branch forward.”
Along with building a stronger leadership base for the future, a local NAACP Youth Council will help young people get a better understanding of history, learn organizing tactics and create action plans for addressing today’s issues. Members of the Youth Council, under the tutelage of the local NAACP senior branch, will be encouraged to pick up the “mantle of social justice,” while inspiring more young people to get involved in the political process to effect change that will impact the next generation.
This invitation and call for youth activism will allow for youth leaders to take their rightful place in the historical struggle for civil rights in an attempt to make America a more perfect union. Officials with the Sampson County NAACP remarked, “we must convey to our young people that the rights we enjoy today are the results of the sacrifices of many brave trailblazers and civil rights pioneers.”
Seeing a need to target and involve the younger generation in the fight for civil rights, Walter White, the National NAACP leader in 1935, launched the idea of the NAACP Youth Council, hoping to channel the youth energy into productive outcomes. Then, in March 1936, the National NAACP established the Youth and College Division, under the leadership of Juanita E. Jackson. And today, the major thrust of this division remains to help develop effective youth leadership in the area of civil rights training. Since their formation in the 1930s, the Council’s main focus has been on addressing issues of social justice, ranging from education, health, economics and criminal justice. Another recurring focus of the NAACP Youth Councils remains civic engagement with the organization sponsoring activities that allow young people to engage in service-oriented functions.
Individuals between the ages of 13 and 25 will be eligible to become members of the Youth Council. At the age of 25, one can transfer into the adult branch. Also, persons 13 and under can enroll in the Junior Youth Council.
To learn more about the NAACP Youth Council, you can attend the local branch’s meetings, scheduled for the fourth Monday of each month at First Baptist Church, 900 College St., in Clinton.