For 2018, the Sampson County Branch of the NAACP remains steadfast in attempting to build a strong leadership base for the future. That leadership base will come from a fervent emphasis on involving young people—middle and high school students and community college students—in helping to establish the local NAACP Youth Council.
As a community, we should be constantly seeking ways to channel the youth energy into productive outcomes, while giving them a better understanding of history and the myriad issues that confront our society today. With that understanding, our young people will be encouraged to pick up the “mantle of social justice” and become involved in the political process to help effect change that will impact generations to come.
Interestingly, a local NAACP Youth Council can generate youth activism that will allow the youth leaders to take their rightful place in the historical struggle for civil rights. This will help them better realize that the rights we enjoy today are the results of the dedicated sacrifices made by courageous civil rights pioneers, pre-dating the modern Civil Rights Movement of the turbulent 1960s.
With the local youth working together, this will allow for fellowship and fun as they develop activities of the NAACP Youth Council, including time for parties and other recreational activities, leading up to the annual NAACP Birthday Celebration in February. In order to be an effective youth council, the members must dedicate themselves to the work of the NAACP by becoming oriented with the goals, philosophy, methods and accomplishments of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.
Along with fellowship, fun and education, there will be regular leadership training involving the officers, executive board members, and committee chairs, with the main focus being on addressing issues of social justice, ranging from education, health, economics and criminal justice reform. Another recurring focus of the NAACP Youth Council remains civic engagement with the organization sponsoring events that allow young people to help with service-oriented functions.
Additionally, for those individuals who join the local NAACP Youth Council, there will be opportunity to travel, going to different cities and states where various boards meet and conventions are hosted. And to reward members for committing to all the hard work required for being an effective NAACP Youth Council, they will have opportunities to compete for college scholarships, as well.
With an effective local Youth Council, we will be better able to assist our parents in exposing young people to activities that will better equip them to succeed and to find their voice, while speaking truth to power. Working together, we can continue to lay the foundation for prosperity, hope and a future.
If you are between the ages of 13 and 20 and are looking for another opportunity to lead, serve and impact society in a positive way, while having fun and making new friends, then the Sampson NAACP Youth Council will be the civic organization for you.
Larry Sutton is a retired school teacher from Clinton High School.