In an apartment in New York City in 2009, something else happened that sparked a movement that would begin one of the most prominent organizations in the world.
The NAACP was born, forging a change in the laws and policy that held America captive since its inception. Then, in 1957 something extraordinary happened.
The Little Rock Nine, the nine youth that desegregated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, marched into Central High School with grace before them and the NAACP’s legal actions behind them.
That day the NAACP’s lawsuits blocked the governor of the state from using the National Guard to block their entrance into the school.
The lack of compassion and screaming could not stop the future which was to be then once again, we moved ahead.
With the National Guard blocking the youth from entering a schoolhouse and with all of the hatred, something extraordinary had to happen again for more change.
In 1963, amid the NAACP being outlawed in the state, young people from around the city of Birmingham, Alabama flooded Kelly Ingram Park and lunch counters in protest of the Jim Crow laws that did not allow them to sit at lunch counters, drink from the same water fountains and to be hired in businesses across the city. After their battle with the fire hoses and police dogs, they were victorious.
Fast forward 40 years later, in 2003 a young man and promising athlete named Marcus Dixon was given an undeniably inequitable 15-year sentence for rape and battery of a girl that attended the same high school as he.
After much discussion and debate, this case drew national attention quickly after the NAACP took on the case. The NAACP held demonstrations with college students around the country to free Dixon, one notably one was held in Atlanta, Georgia in front of the Georgia Capitol building. In 1994 he was released after the Georgia Supreme Court overturned his conviction.
Years later, the NAACP mobilized thousands of young people to protest for Jena 6, the six African American men that were wrongfully charged of attempted murder or either as an adult for a schoolhouse fight that led to a noose being hung from a schoolhouse tree in 2006. It became one of the largest civil rights demonstrations of the 21st century. The Jena 6 were ultimately freed. Then again, something extraordinary happened again.
In 2007, in Springfield, Illinois, young senator from Chicago named Barack Obama went against the odds and announced his run for the presidency of the United States.
The NAACP Youth and College Division initiated its Vote Hard campaign that took students to neighborhoods and universities challenging them to get out and vote, also by encouraging filling out voter registration forms online using the NAACP’s Upload to Uplift program.
These initiatives registered thousands to vote and built voter awareness across the country. From 1909 to today not only has the NAACP been effective but the youth have led the way to the goal of equality and opportunity for all Americans.
Today, there are problems on college campuses of racism and inequalities that NAACP college chapters work on a daily basis.
Today, we see that our work is still not done. The youth are energized and will not take injustices sitting down. We are still effective and needed for the next phase of the movement. This phase is one that is not only consisting of marches and protests but one of education and awareness.
In the 21st Century we will continue to strive toward the mark set before us by our ancestors. In this centennial of the NAACP, we will not forget the examples that were set 40 years ago, we will continue to work toward paying down the debt that we owe to our ancestors.
We will continue to be even more visible. We will continue to work. So, mark our words, something extraordinary will be happening again.