The Duluth NAACP Young Adult Committee’s mission is to increase the number of young adults (21-35 years old) who are not only members of the Duluth branch, but active in the opportunities the branch offers. Our committee has outstanding members including Terresa Moses, Mary Cowen Bantle, Erin Kreeger, Susana Pelayo Woodward, Sandra Oyinloye, Bettina Keppers, and Jeanine Weekes Schroer. Each of them offer amazing talents to the committee– helping us reach our young adult engagement goals. One place we’ve seen growth in active young adults is on our executive committee, with six of nineteen members being under 35 years old (an increase from just two the year prior). Another place we’ve seen growth is at our branch general meetings in the attendance of young folks.
Our outreach method for 2019 consisted of socials that center the voices of young adults interested in social justice, advocacy, and anti-racism. These meetups are called Social Justice Socials and we hosted one per quarter. We try to plan them in places where we think folks would like to build community like Zeitgeist, Bent Paddle, and even YMCA’s Camp Miller! The SJS has been amazing opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals and many of the partnering organizations have seen growth in engagement because of the SJS.
We plan to continue these Social Justice Socials and hope to broaden our reach of young folks looking for organizations to plug into and offer their talents to. This year, we will be changing one of our Social Justice Socials into a Legacy Social, dedicated to bringing together folks over 50 within the Duluth community. We’re hoping our efforts in helping plan such an event with community elders, helps to bridge some of the intergenerational gaps that are often present in organizing spaces. So, look out Duluth legacy folks, you’re in for a treat this year!
The Young Adult Committee also serves as a support bridge for youth and college branch participation. We currently advise an active college chapter located at the University of Minnesota Duluth. The chapter hosts events that engage their college community on issues of racism, police brutality, and advocacy. Their plans for the Spring 2020 semester are to focus on intergenerational traumas, healing, and honoring the past victims of the 1920 Duluth lynching. They also cleverly bring art into their events by hosting a zine-making session that reinforces the topics introduced in the meeting.
In our efforts to continue as a support bridge for youth, we’ve been hard at work to re-activate our youth chapter charter. Since the summer of 2019, we’ve been meeting with district teachers and staff who have a vested interest in the success of their Black, Indigenous, and Students of Color. Our mission for the youth council is to provide Black, Indigenous, and other secondary school students of color in Duluth a set of tools and resources to combat White supremacy in their schools and succeed despite it. We have a timeline of one year to meet with as many students as we can to hear what they want and how the NAACP can support them. It is because of our efforts that we are hosting our first Anti-Racist Youth Summit on February 12. This will serve as a space for Duluth students to learn more about how racism is affecting them, but also provide tools and community to overcome it.