Black Experience

NAACP Announces New Direction to Grow Membership

In keeping with its longstanding history and legacy, the NAACP’s board of directors announced over the weekend the organization’s strategic plan to confront the nation’s volatile political, media and social climates.

The NAACP said in a May 19 statement that while the black community and other communities of color as a whole have experienced tremendous advancements, the organization continues to march towards the arc of justice despite additional barriers that have been placed in the way, including voter suppression, increased police brutality, income inequality and inadequate health care.

“Our organization has been at the forefront of America, making tremendous strides over the last hundred years,” said Leon Russell, chair of the NAACP board of directors. “However, modern day civil rights issues facing the NAACP, like education reform, voting rights and access to affordable health care, still persist and demand our continued action.”

Derrick Johnson, board vice chair, added that to shed more emphasis on those and other concerns, the NAACP will in coming months embark on an historic national listening tour.

“[The tour will] ensure that we harness the energy and voices of our grassroots members, to help us achieve transformational change, and create an internal culture designed to push the needle forward on civil rights and social justice,” Johnson said.

Meanwhile, during a meet and greet event Friday where the Richmond, Virginia, branch of the NAACP focused on increasing its membership, event co-organizer Margaret Johnson said the local group lists nearly 600 active members — half of whom are lifetime members.

Johnson said the branch, formed about nine years after the NAACP launched, also plans on celebrating its 100th anniversary later this year.

“Membership is our backbone,” said Johnson, who added that her branch aims to increase its roster by embracing more millennials.

Johnson also alluded to off-and-on public sentiments that suggests the NAACP has strayed from its mission.

“We haven’t strayed away from the mission as much as this world has changed with Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media,” she said. “There are those electronic devices now that we have to catch up to, because we’ve always been a word-of-mouth organization.

“In keeping with our mission we still stand for justice, economic equality, and educational benefits that are afforded to all children — and No. 1, to create that a society where discrimination has been eradicated,” Johnson said.

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