NAACP Committees: Planning the Steps Toward Progress

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COMMITTEES

Master List of Committees

  • ACT-SO
  • Civic Engagement
  • Climate Justice
  • Criminal Justice
  • Economic Development
  • Education
  • Finance
  • Fundraising/Freedom Fund
  • Health
  • Housing
  • LGBTQ
  • Membership (& Life Membership)
  • Next Generations
  • Press & Publicity
  • Religious Affairs
  • Technology
  • Veterans Affairs
  • Youth Engagement

HEALTH COMMITTEE

Chair: Dominick Boyce

This mission of the Health Committee of the Mid-Manhattan Branch includes a focus on the right of African Americans and other people of color to have optimal health outcomes and access to timely, quality, affordable health care. African Americans continue to have the highest incidence, prevalence and mortality rates from chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, and issues like HIV/AIDS continue to overwhelm the Black community more so than any other racial or ethnic group. It is not surprising that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted African Americans and other people of color as generations of systemic racism has created vast inequalities with lasting ripple effects.

The Mid-Manhattan Branch of the NAACP is committed to eliminating the racial and ethnic inequities that exist within our health care system that undermine communities of color their life opportunities and their ability to contribute fully to the common good. To this end, we are focused on providing the latest health updates and statistics to our members through:

  • 1 Partnering with local health institutions and community-based organizations on health based initiatives and fairs
  • 2 Bringing health experts to our branch meetings during the month of May, which we have designated as Health Month.
  • 3 Participating in the New York State NAACP Conference's Health Committee to share information and resources for our members and communities that we serve in our catchment area.

EDUCATION COMMITTEE

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:

  • The Education Committee plan to continue the very successful mentoring program, focusing on having the students read and discuss literature based on African-American History, culture, and anti-racism. In collaboration with the school staff this initiative will include trips to sites that will both educate and motivate the students.
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  • To continue support of students and families in the very important process of remote learning.
  • Continue the tradition of our ‘Back-to-School/Stay-in-School Program’ in collaboration with our Next Gen Committee as mandated by our National and State offices.
  • Ensuring College and Career Readiness: A path to success after graduation for all students by working with the seniors and their parents on high achievement, college preparation and ways to finance their college education in collaboration with AAUW.
  • Train students to be politically active in the Branch’s civic engagement initiative with voter registration, education and empowerment being a top priority;
  • Continuation of the tradition of Holiday celebrations at the school;
  • With the Principal’s continued contribution and support, the Committee hopes to continue and enhance the ACT-SO (Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics) program which 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.

Climate Justice

Chair: Marion Bell

Environmental injustice, including the proliferation of climate change, has a disproportionate impact on communities of color and low income communities in the United States and around the world. The NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program was created to support community leadership in addressing this human and civil rights issue.

In the past, and to some extent still now, when people think of environmentalism, they often think of saving the whales or hugging trees! When folks think about climate change, what often comes to mind are melting ice caps and suffering polar bears. Historically, American society has failed to make the connection in terms of the direct impact of environmental injustices, including climate change, on our own lives, families, and communities, all of whom depend on the physical environment and its bounty.

The Environmental and Climate Justice Program works at addressing the many practices that are harming communities nationwide and worldwide and the policies needed to rectify these impacts and advance a society that fosters sustainable, cooperative, regenerative communities that uphold all rights for all people in harmony with the earth.

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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

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CIVIC ENGAGEMENT COMMENT

Chair: Leilani Irvin

Co-Chair: Roscoe Boyd II

The Civic Engagement Committee works to ensure voter empowerment by providing awareness, training, and programmatic support to ensure voter registration, education, administration, and election protection.

In 2020, Black voters and the issues that directly impact our communities will play a critical role in elections and ultimately decide the fate of our country. Now more than ever, we must strategize and organize Black voters at the local and national level to increase our power at the polls.

This committee’s mission is to reverse the trend in communities of color being undercounted in the census. Currently, this committee’s primary duty is not only to educate but to ensure that every single individual in marginalized communities are counted. Getting counted and remaining civically engaged is a form of protest.

In partnership with the New York State and The New York City Census agency, we have hosted a series of teach-ins, trainings and workshops for community members at large.

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To learn more about the Census please click on the following link: https://my2020census.gov/

April 1, 2020 was Census Day. Participating in the census is vital as it determines resources for your communities that include:

  • federal funding;
  • congressional representation;
  • funding for new schools, senior centers, hospitals, roads and more.

The Census can be completed online, through the mail, or by phone, making it convenient for every citizen to participate.

Help your community by becoming a volunteer with the NAACP.

The NAACP has developed a nonpartisan voter empowerment program designed to empower African Americans and people of color by increasing awareness and participation in the electoral process.

The Civic Engagement Committee will support the mission of the NAACP to ensure political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination, through implementing the following initiatives:

Increase voter registration and voting;

  • Enactment of municipal, state and federal legislation designed to improve the educational, political and economic status of people of color;
  • Repeal of racially discriminatory legislation;
  • Monitor all proposed legislation that affect people of color

The Committee is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates for public office.

MEMBERSHIP

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.

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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

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE

Chair: Charles Johnson

The mission of the economic development committee of the Mid-Manhattan Branch is to focus on improving the economic and financial lives of the African-American community and all communities of color.

We as a people have 90% of the wealth and resources of our white counterparts. COVID-19 has exposed us as so called essential workers and systemic racism has kept us over these many years at the very bottom of the economic and financial pay-scale.

The destruction of the wealthy black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma 99 years ago as well as similar riots of prosperous black communities including Rosewood, FL played a role in curtailing wealth in the black population. Wealth is passed from generation to generation so the destruction of our wealth early on plays a real role in the beginning of the wealth gap between black and white which exists today.

Today so many of us are unbanked. Today so many of us are living paycheck to paycheck.

Today so many of us have credit issues. The NAACP Mid-Manhattan Branch reaches out to our community through workshops and seminars on financial education, credit repair and restoration, job skill developments and tax planning and strategies. We partner with organizations such as the World of Money, Wells Fargo Bank, and several insurance companies.

Our country was built on the principle that the people are opposed to “Taxation without Representation” and members of the NAACP Mid-Manhattan Branch are keenly aware of the consequences that the disparate distribution of taxes can have on a community and its allocation of tax-supported social services.

On March 16, 2019, the Economic Development Committee, Chaired by Martin Harris, sponsored “Tax Information Day” at Canaan Baptist Church to inform the community on the New Tax Laws and the Changes Impacting their 2019 Taxes due to the Tax Reform Bill advocated by congressional Republicans and the Trump administration.

We partnered also with the NAACP New York State Conference Economic Development to share information and resources with our members.

NEXT GENERATION

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.

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RELIGiOUS AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

Chair: Honorable J. Machelle Sweeting

Although not a religious organization, since its founding, the NAACP has long-recognized the important role of religion in upholding the fundamental right of freedom for all and the religious affairs committee has remained the Association’s bulwark against discrimination.

The Religious Affairs Committee includes ministerial, lay, and community leaders united with a uniform purpose and principled moral compass to: (1) promote educational programs designed to give moral and ethical interpretation to relevant civil rights issues; (2) interpret the work of the Association to organized religious groups of all faiths; (3) enlist the support of such organized religious groups for membership, fundraising, and the struggle for equality and full civil rights; and (4) provide resources and assistance in implementing policies and programs related to religious affairs and the improvement of race relations.

In addition, the committee is responsible for ensuring that the names of all deceased members are properly recorded and their achievements memorialized in the annals of the Association’s state and national conventions.

At the Branch’s bi-annual Clergy and Community Breakfast, the committee recognizes civic and community leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to sounding the clarion call for justice.

Recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the committee was instrumental in helping to get houses of worship designated as test sites in communities of color that were disproportionately impacted by the virus.

Committee membership is open to all Association members regardless of their individual religious beliefs and is committed to ensuring that all members are treated equally and with respect.

YOUTH WORK

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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.

LGBTQ COMMITTEE

Chair: Hon. Franc Perry

The LGBTQ Committee of the Mid-Manhattan Branch of the NAACP, was called into service by President Geoff Eaton, to respond to the ever-evolving issues confronting New York’s LGBTQ Community. Since its inception, the Committee has been at the forefront of issues such as Marriage Equality, Gender Equality, Same-Sex Parent Adoption, Transgender Rights, Religious Freedom and Access to Education.

Each year during Pride Month, the Committee hosts its “Pride in the Community Awards”. Past recipients include: Pride in Government-Hon. Corey Johnson Speaker of the New York City Council, Hon. Ritchie Torres; Pride in Faith- Moshay Moses, Metropolitan Community Church, Rev. Vanessa Brown, Rivers of Living Water Church;

Pride in Education-Dr. Wilhelmina Perry; “The David Weaver Prize for Excellence” in the Arts-Irene Gandy, Broadway producer, Debra Ann-Byrd, Founder “Take Wing and Soar-Harlem Shakespeare Festival; The Ally of the Year Award- Dr. Shirley Smith, Elaine Shulman.

The Committee also hosts a Booth and Welcome Center at the Harlem Pride Festival and is a presence at Black Pride, New York. Each year, the Committee’s work expands and this year, the Committee is joining forces with the Black Lives Matter movement, to promote justice for all people of color irrespective of their sexual orientation.

The Committee is co-chaired by Carmen Neely and Hon. W. Franc Perry. The Next Gen-liaison is Roscoe Boyd