By Jessica Espinoza
Created in 1909, when eruptions of antiblack violence were commonplace, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights organization in the United States that fights for justice for African Americans. This year, Barry is welcoming the newest chapter of the NAACP, currently striving to gain more members and serve their community.
Their vision, according to naacp.org, is “to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights and there is no racial hatred or racial discrimination.”
The organization is led by President and CEO Derrick Johnson, who is “dedicated to ending race-based discrimination.”
Within Barry’s chapter, Melodie Plaise, a doctoral counseling student, was elected president of the NAACP.
In its very first year at Barry, there are plenty of issues that this organization plans to tackle. According to Plaise, their hope is to inform students of issues affecting the community.
“We strive to implement initiatives to educate, stimulate, and mobilize our community while simultaneously bringing our diverse community closer together,” said Plaise.
She looks forward to “raising awareness about the NAACP chapter and increasing participation in our monthly general body meetings and advocacy events.”
Plaise’s plan is broken down by key focuses per month. February is Black History Month, March is Women’s History Month, and in April, the organization will focus on sexual assault awareness and child abuse prevention.
She adds that some of the chapter’s goals are to advocate for “freedom, equity, justice, and peace, and [give] back to our community.”
While she recognizes that garnering attention toward the college student population is important, Vice President of the NAACP chapter, Lecia Gray, believes they must also focus on the elderly community.
“They have laid down their lives, historically, to pave the way for us. I don’t want to forget our elderly,” said Gray, a graduate social work student. “By helping them, we are helping the community as well.”
To do their work, the NAACP chapter at Barry needs student membership to back them up. While they may have a lot of community outreach efforts planned, the need to increase numbers is their main priority.
Encouraging students to join, Gray laid out plans for the chapter’s meetings. Meetings will explore various topics and feature guest speakers discussing current events and news in Florida. She encourages students to come to the meetings to learn more.
“I understand that people are busy, but one hour, once a month to help out your community is all you need,” Gray said. “Our pinning ceremony in March will have food, speakers, and much more.”
The organization is excited to welcome newcomers. Students interested in joining should send Marsha Francois or Melodie Plaise an email asking for an application.