BALTIMORE, MD – The NAACP is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its Youth & College Division, created in 1936. The division serves as the premier institution for young people to develop the skills they need to meet various challenges that face African Americans and other youth of color. NAACP youth units across the country engage in social justice activism, addressing issues at the local, state and national level, with a primary focus on education, economic development, health, juvenile justice and voter empowerment.
According to its mission statement, the division aims to inform youth of the problems affecting African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities, to advance the status of the African American community, to stimulate appreciation of the African Diaspora and other people of color’s contribution to society, and to develop intelligent and militant youth leadership.
“The Youth & College Division helped me develop as a leader and as an activist,” stated NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock, a former youth member. “Over five hundred members of the Youth and College Division have served on our National Board of Directors since the inception of youth designated positions in 1963. The NAACP continues to serve as a fertile training ground for the type of leadership needed in today’s society. Leaders who respect democracy and appreciate community. I am proud that the division is still going strong, and excited about engaging the new front line of the NAACP in the coming years.”
“The Youth & College Division is important not only because it educates and trains young leaders, but also because of the notable accomplishments of its members,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, another former member of the division. “The division has seen a renewed spirit of leadership and activism in recent years, evident in the powerful civic engagement efforts like the Upload 2 Uplift and Vote Hard campaigns as well as mobilization efforts led by young people within the Association.”
The division today is composed of more than 25,000 young people under the age of 25. They represent 600 youth councils, high school chapters and college chapters, making the division one of the largest organized groups of young people of any secular organization in the country. From March through December, the Youth & College Division will celebrate their 75thanniversary with local coordinated activities around the country, and will host a national youth town hall meeting during the NAACP National Convention in Los Angeles. Additionally, later this year the division will launch a new social networking project as the NAACP continues to engage young people in 21st century technology initiatives.
“Young people are the fastest growing demographic in the NAACP,” stated Stefanie Brown, National Field Director & Director of the Youth and College Division. “They are often the ones on the front lines, using their energy and enthusiasm to bring attention to important issues and effect positive changes in their communities. The steady stream of new voices in that cycle in every year ensures that the division remains a dynamic and enduring force in the NAACP.”