U-M NAACP chapter discusses historical roots and future of organization
As part of The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Week, the University of Michigan chapter of NAACP hosted an event on Tuesday evening discussing the historical roots of the movement and how it applies to campus today. Student members of the NAACP on campus met in the Afro-American Lounge of South Quad for this event. NAACP week began Monday night with a discussion event held in conjuction with the Ann Arbor Police Department.
William V. Hampton, president of the Ann Arbor branch of the NAACP, was originally invited to the event as a guest speaker. However, due to a medical issue in his family, he was unable to attend.
LSA senior Isaiah Land, president of the University NAACP chapter, began the discussion by outlining major events the NAACP has been a part of since it was founded. Some of the ideas discussed were historical court cases including Guinn v. United States and Brown v. Board of Education, as well as other events throughout the civil rights movement. The students also discussed the film, “The Birth of a Nation” in detail since the NAACP worked to stop the distribution of this film featuring the Ku Klux Klan.
“The NAACP has been around since 1909,” Land said. “We want to look at where we’ve been and figure out where we can go, maximizing our political power.”
The students then discussed the beginning of the NAACP chapter at the University specifically. Ravi Perry founded the NAACP at the University in 2002 after spending a summer as an intern in Washington D.C., recalling the lack of a Black experience on campus with respect to socio-political activism.
“In 2002, there was a lot going on,” Land said. “They wanted to get people out to vote.”
LSA junior Timberlee Whiteus highlighted the differences between the Black Student Union and the NAACP, which include the political nature of the NAACP.
“NAACP is seen as a national organization,” Whiteus said. “And this is a place where we can have conversations about change and protests and who we need to write to.”
Land explained the seven committees of the University’s chapter, which include Health and Awareness, Membership, Education, Finance, Program and Research, Press and Publicity and Political Action/Juvenile Justice.
Land also stressed the importance of the organization in providing support and reaching out to freshmen on campus.
“We really want to get traction going into next year especially,” Land said. “A lot of freshmen come in and there’s culture shock because they don’t understand that Michigan isn’t the place that they show you on the pamphlet.”
LSA freshman Darlena York added from her personal experience, getting in touch with first-year students was important for NAACP.
“It is difficult for freshmen,” York said. “It was weird walking in to see four Black people amidst a bunch of people who don’t look like me.”
The event concluded with Land urging students to sign up for various committees and get involved.
“We don’t have to change the world in one day, but exercising our power politically is something we need to focus on,” Land said.