It always amuses me when I read criticisms about the NAACP’s addressing issues in the community like those raised in the Banner’s recent article about Baratunde Thurston (“Dot commentary,” Arts and Entertainment, May 21, 2009). The days of marching and protesting in response to overt forms of racism are long gone. In today’s society, racism and the issues that stem from it are more covert and systemic, which necessitates more time, planning and strategy to even shed light on the issues, let alone establish enough influence to address and solve them in a meaningful way.
The power of any organization is in its membership and the meeting of the minds. After reading the article, I believe the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People needs people like Mr. Thurston — their skills, passions and input.
The strength of the NAACP has always come from the younger generation of members. This will continue with the recent appointment of our 17th president, 36-year-old Benjamin T. Jealous.
The NAACP is fired up about addressing issues affecting the African American community with due diligence and with the renewed commitment and spirit of the youth. The recent ad for a new media manager highlights the NAACP’s understanding of the foundation on which the organization was built, but also the need for intelligence, tenacity and spirit, as well as thoughtful and strategic planning, that the younger generation can bring to help address major issues on a larger scale.
As a longstanding member of the organization on the collegiate, local and state levels, I would argue that the younger generation has never left the NAACP. The youth have been and will always be the backbone of the NAACP. Thurgood Marshall, Roy Wilkins, Julian Bond and Ralph Bunch, all extraordinary leaders, have credited their experience in collegiate chapters and youth councils within the NAACP with honing their leadership skills, and fostering their spirit for public service and civic engagement.
If Mr. Thurston doesn’t “know anyone in [his] age group that is a NAACP member,” then that’s the problem with his perception of the organization. I am a proud member and so are my friends. We are in the struggle, and we could use some help.
I implore Mr. Thurston, his friends, Banner readers and others to come home to the NAACP. I am ready to turn these criticisms into action. Are you ready to join me?
Candice P. Baldwin, Ph.D.
Director, Office of Multicultural Affairs
Mount Ida College