BALTIMORE -- The NAACP will celebrate its 102nd anniversary, as well as the 75th anniversary of the NAACP Youth & College Division, at its convention in Los Angeles, CA. The convention will feature the annual ACT-SO competition and performance, as well as speeches and workshops on how to address the economic and social problems faced by communities of color. Past speakers have included President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The convention will be held from July 23rd – 29th.
“The NAACP is proud to bring the 102nd Annual Convention to Los Angeles,” stated NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock. “This year’s convention is especially significant as we honor the 75th anniversary of the Youth & College Division, which continues to serve as a fertile training ground for the type of leadership needed in today’s society. We welcome you to join us as we discuss key strategies needed to affirm America's promise for all citizens.”
The convention arrives as low-income communities and communities of color are facing double digit unemployment, high incarceration rates, school re-segregation, and other critical issues threatening progress made in the last century. The NAACP, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, will advance solutions and adopt a policy agenda under the theme “Affirming America’s Promise”. The convention will set the stage for the organization’s work in the next year, with advocacy workshops on a myriad of vital issues including health care, civic engagement, climate justice and membership growth.
“The civil rights era held great promise for a more just and equal America,” stated NAACP President & CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “Though we have made great strides, so many of the same injustices still exist today. As Americans recover from a Great Recession, many people of color are still struggling to avoid a Great Depression. Millions of American children are locked in poor quality schools that lead more of our students to prison than to college. We are still spending far too much money on incarceration pursuing policies that are not smart on crime and do not make us safer. We are facing more challenges to voting rights today than at any time since the Civil Rights era. Our convention will bring thousands of NAACP members and activists from across the nation to raise our voice for change and build a powerful grassroots movement. Together, we can realize America’s promise for all.”
Convention participants include actors, established and emerging civil rights leaders, elected officials and faith-based leaders. Civil rights attorney Frankie Muse Freeman will receive this year’s Spingarn Award on July 28th, which is awarded to an American of African descent for outstanding and noble achievement.
“After 102 year the NAACP is expanding and remains an influential voice in the fight for social justice,” stated NAACP Vice Chairman Leon Russell. “We are proud to be back in Los Angeles for the first time since 1990. As we continue our journey toward a greater America we thank the Los Angeles Branch and the city of Los Angeles for graciously hosting us as we continue to define the civil rights agenda for the next year.”
The Youth & College Division will celebrate its milestone with workshops, luncheons and forums throughout the week, culminating in a special plenary session titled “Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of The Youth & College Division”. Founded in 1936, the division serves as the premier institution for young people to develop the skills they need to meet the various challenges that face African Americans and other youth of color. The division today is composed of more than 25,000 young people under the age of 25. It is celebrating its anniversary this year with numerous events and programs, including a National Membership Campaign called Y75.
“The city of Los Angeles and the NAACP Los Angeles branch are honored to host the 102nd NAACP Annual Convention,” stated NAACP Los Angeles Branch President Leon Jenkins. “Los Angeles is home to a diverse population and many emblems of African American achievement, including Leimert Park and countless galleries. We are excited to host members from around the country and to show them the best that this world-class city has to offer.”
The Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics, or ACT-SO, competition will be held from July 22-23. Students will compete in 26 ACT-SO categories, including sciences, humanities, performing arts, visual arts, and business over the course of the event. The majority of the science, performing arts and visual arts competitions are open to the public. National winners of gold, silver and bronze medals in the competition will be announced July 24.
ACT-SO attracts some of the nation’s most gifted high school students. Its past participants occupy a wide array of careers ranging from executive positions to entertainment. Famed ACT-SO alumni include musician Kanye West, actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, filmmaker John Singleton and comedian Anthony Anderson.
“In July, members from hundreds of NAACP branches and youth units will convene in the great state of California to determine the future course of the association,” stated NAACP California State Conference President Alice Huffman. “This year’s theme, ‘Affirming America’s Promise’, recognizes that many in California and across the country are struggling. With that in mind, we will continue and enhance the fight for equality in this country.”