NAACP Committees: Planning the Steps Toward Progress
Master List of Committees
Chair: Harriett Fortson
Co-Chair: Deborah Harris
The NAACP’s ultimate goal is that every student of color receives a quality public education that prepares him or her to be a contributing member of a democracy.
The mission of the Education Committee is to endorse, support and assist with excellent educational opportunities for youth in the community, and enhance academic outcomes for students so that they can graduate, proceed to higher education, and become productive and involved citizens of their communities.
To achieve these goals, the Committee will continue to work with students, staff, parents and community members of our adopted school Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
Wadleigh Secondary School is a historic, premiere Harlem school dating back to 1902. It is located at 215 West 114th Street and was designated by New York City Department of Education as a Renewal School in 2015. The school has a long history of promoting excellence, and has many loyal and accomplished alumni.
The staff and students have worked together to present inspiring performances both in and outside of the school. Students have published several volumes of poetry, which are part of the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture. Despite some setbacks and controversy, the school remains strong, and is very appreciative of NAACP support.
However, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, all schools closed in New York City in mid-March, the Education Committee began to develop ways to continue our support of the students, staff and families of Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing & Visual Arts, and to plan for the future.
At this time, our activities with the students and parents are being handled remotely until schools reopen. Our on-going and future initiatives include:
CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE
Chair: Kim M. Parker, Esq.
Co-Chair: Terrence Coffie
The NAACP Mid-Manhattan Branch Criminal Justice Committee aims to expose the inequities embedded into the American criminal justice system. From COVID-19 to running while Black, the abuse faced by people of color, particularly African Americans is devastating. Sadly, police brutality against the Black community has been an ever-present circumstance since its origin to preserve the system of slavery.
For too long we have marched, we have protested, and we have mourned our lost ones as the world watched on. When is enough, enough?
The work to upend the dark underbelly of discrimination within this country demands engagement from all people and industries. Therefore, our Committee works with partners to demand legislative action to combat the rise of gun violence, domestic terrorism and white supremacy. We also conduct programs to help formerly incarcerated individuals transition back into society. And we partner with community allies to bring awareness about injustices and police brutality affecting our community.
We look at solutions and approaches to criminal justice that do not include mass-incarceration. We advocate for smarter criminal justice policies to keep our communities safe, including treatment for addiction and mental health problems, judicial discretion in sentencing, and an end to racial disparities at all levels of the system.
Our oppression has reached its boiling point.
The uprisings we’re witnessing across U.S. cities are a direct consequence of the racism, bigotry, violence, and subjugation against Black people that has festered in this country for far too long. The murder of George Floyd has set into motion what can only be described as a moment of reckoning for our nation’s conscience.
How we become the land of the free depends largely on what happens next.
What does justice look like? Justice means bringing an end to the criminalization of Black skin and holding police departments accountable because it is not only a civil rights issue but also a human rights issue. Secondly, we need sweeping police reform–federal, state and city legislation mandating a zero-tolerance approach in penalizing and/or prosecuting police officers who kill unarmed, non-violent, and non-resisting individuals in an arrest.
In our pursuit of justice for Black people, eliminating discrimination is critical to creating a better world. Therefore, we must protest peacefully, demand persistently, and fight politically. But most of all, we must VOTE.
George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Atatiana Jefferson, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean, Philando Castille, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Walter Scott, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Emmett Till
#SayTheirNames #WeAreDoneDying #Vote
Co-Chair: Claire Theobalds, Sheila Thomas-Lewis, Yolette Green
Membership is the Lifeblood of the NAACP! Through the active and creative efforts of the Membership Committee of the Mid-Manhattan Branch, the NAACP shall forever remain the “oldest, boldest, baddest and most revered civil rights organization in the country.”
At the Mid-Manhattan Branch, the committee understands that to be effective, its members cannot operate in a vacuum, but must go outside the walls of the branch to reach new members. Members of the Mid-Manhattan Branch work tirelessly to ensure that every member is actively involved in membership recruitment.
The committee is bold in its approach of going outside the walls of the branch to establish meaningful and long-standing relationships with religious, social, education and other community-based networks and organizations, in an effort to advance the mission of the civil rights movement.
While it is important to attract new members, the Mid-Manhattan Branch understands that one of the greatest challenges in any organization is keeping members engaged.
To this end, the Mid-Manhattan Branch has effectively implemented a membership monitoring system that alerts members when their membership is about to expire. Through a database, maintained by the Branch Secretary, monthly renewal notices are sent out to members reminding them to renew their membership, prior to the membership expiration deadline.
Our goal is to never have an expired membership in our database, only new ones.
By remaining in constant communication with our membership, they remain engaged in the branch’s activities and are reminded that by joining the NAACP Mid-Manhattan Branch, they did not just join an organization, but they joined a movement: one where their membership is valued and their continued participation is deemed highly important.
At the conclusion of every monthly meeting we emphasize that membership is the key to our organization and that active membership is the true source of the organization’s power. In order to maintain the vitality of the organization, members are encouraged to bring in at least one new member per month.
As a result of the Branch’s effective, creative and organized membership approach, for the past three years, the Mid-Manhattan Branch has been recognized at the Annual New York State Conference Convention for its distinguished efforts in increasing life memberships.
As the catalyst for change and the leading voice of civil rights advocacy, the Mid-Manhattan Branch remains connected, supportive and highly impactful in the surrounding community.
BE A MEMBER. JOIN THE NAACP!!
“Let justice roll down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream”
~ Amos 5:24
Chair: LaShanda Myers
The Mid-Manhattan Branch is committed to ensuring that in the words of Chairman Emeritus, Roslyn M. Brock that “courage will not skip this generation.” On November 15, 2017, the Mid-Manhattan Branch launched a new Committee, the Next Generation (NextGen), comprising of young professionals. The event called The New Movement: an NAACP Initiative, was held at The Salvation Army, 540 Lenox Avenue in the Village of Harlem. This inaugural forum brought together young community leaders, activists, elected officials and our established leadership to engage in meaningful dialogue and an exchange of ideas and solutions.
Shanelle Washington is the Chair of the Next Gen Committee. Civic engagement and community involvement are top priorities for the NextGen committee and through this New Movement they hope to reach hundreds of young professionals who may not realize how imperative it is that they become involved. This local effort will be part of a nationwide movement to engage young professionals in civic affairs and to convey how community involvement can make a difference in their lives, for our youth, and for our future.
Geoffrey Eaton, President, Mid-Manhattan NAACP Branch welcomed the new Committee stating that the Branch has chosen to take the lead in re-energizing the organization through outreach to younger generations, and to help The New Movement establish its presence as they work to advance the mission on which our beloved organization was founded more than one hundred years ago.
Honorable Inez Dickens, New York State Assembly member, Assembly District 70 praised the Mid-Manhattan Branch for taking a bold step. She hopes that participation will ignite a new era of civic engagement in Harlem.
The Next Generation is dedicated to continuing the legacy of the civil rights movement by employing new strategies to galvanize a new generation of leaders.
ACT-SO (Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics)
Chair: Claire Theobalds
Co-Chair: Yolette Green
The Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics, better known as ACT-SO, is a yearlong youth achievement program sponsored by the NAACP designed to recruit, stimulate, improve and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among minority high school students. ACT-SO through its Academic Enrichment Program provides culturally sensitive, rigorous training in critical thinking, academic research, and presentation skills; and gives students the opportunity to showcase their own development in the areas of youth leadership, and personal and professional life skills advancement.
The ACT-SO program was founded in 1977 by Vernon Jarrett, a renowned author, journalist and civil rights activist who initiated the idea of a program that would promote and reward academic achievers the same way sports heroes are honored.
ACT-SO is sponsored by the NAACP, the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. It receives support from schools, local businesses, community organizations, churches, foundations, major corporations and individuals. The program also relies on the dedication of local NAACP branches and the commitment of community and business leaders who volunteer as mentors and coaches to promote academic and artistic excellence. Through this collaborative effort, participating students develop the confidence and skills needed to excel in school and in life.
ACT-SO currently includes 32 categories of competition in the sciences, humanities, business, performing and visual arts, entrepreneurship and culinary competitions. Students are allowed to compete in three (3) categories.
The ACT-SO program is intended to be a learning experience, first and foremost. The focus of a viable and effective local ACT-SO program is on enrichment and mentorship. Students work with local volunteer ACT-SO mentors who help them develop projects specific for their competition category throughout the school year.
The local Act-SO Competitions and Award Ceremonies show the results of the students’ hard work during the year. The local competition was held on April 13, 2019 at Wingate Campus High School in Brooklyn and the Awards Ceremony took place on Monday, May 6, 2019 at St. Francis College, located at 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn, NY. Competition winners received Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals.
On July 18, 2019, 11 gold medalists travelled to Detroit, MI to compete in the National competition where they competed against more than 1,000 gold medalists representing approximately 200 NAACP Branches nationwide and had the opportunity to compete for gold medals and $2,000, Silver and $1500 and Bronze and $1000 along with scholarships, fellowships and other rewards provided by our national ACT-SO sponsors.
NYC ACT-SO students captured 2 medals - a Silver Medal in Earth and Space Sciences and a Gold Medal in Business Entrepreneurship along with a grant of $50,000. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year, NYC ACT-SO has not been able to compete in the local and national competitions but we look forward to 2021 when we will have weathered the storm.
ACT-SO is a community based program that provides multiple opportunities for involvement. Community members may participate as chairpersons, mentors, judges, sponsors, organizers, competitors, benefactors and educational partners. The program receives support from schools, local businesses, community organizations, churches, foundations, major corporations and individuals.
We urge ALL to volunteer with ACT-SO by being a Mentor, Coach, Facilitator or a Judge.