GVSU chapter of NAACP celebrates Founders Day

GVL / Dylan McIntyre. Monday, February 12, 2018. GVSU NAACP celebrates the 109th Founders Day.

GVL / Dylan McIntyre. Monday, February 12, 2018. GVSU NAACP celebrates the 109th Founders Day.

Rachel Matuszewski

Grand Valley State University’s student chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) recently celebrated the national organization’s 109 years of civil rights service and advocacy. The event took place in the Kirkhof Center Thornapple Room on Monday, Feb. 12. 

“I think that service and advocacy is something that should be celebrated even more,” said Anya Ward, a member of the NAACP at GVSU. “Doing this kind of celebration honors the service and the work that has been done already by this organization in particular. A lot of students want to come (to) celebrations where there is food or dancing, but when it comes to doing service work and putting in time outside of something that directly affects them and gives them a positive boost, that’s something that needs to be valued more on this campus.” 

At the event, organization members discussed the work the NAACP has been doing since it was founded in 1909 by activists and abolitionists fighting for equal rights.

“We are a courageous generation of intelligent, militant and effective youth leaders creating a world for all people to thrive,” said Cheyanna Green-Molett, president of the NAACP at GVSU. 

The NAACP chapter at GVSU is focused on informing youth of problems affecting communities of color; advancing the economic, social, educational and political status of people of color; facilitating harmonious corporation with other people; and developing effective youth leaders. 

The committee positions include women’s empowerment, community service, environmental justice, and health and wellness. Members encourage students to join for the group’s community service opportunities, support from faculty and staff, national resources and reputation, and fellowship.

“I think it’s important for students to do this activist work because out in the real world, you’re not in a bubble,” Green-Molett said. “You’re going to be surrounded by people (who) are different from you, and you’re going to be faced with injustices and discrimination. Being a part of an organization that focuses on serving and advocating for people (who) are affected by this will give you exposure to (those) issues and how to deal with those issues effectively so you’re not blind (or) being a bystander to issues that are always occurring around our world, especially in current times.”

On campus, the organization can be seen advocating for students of color in classrooms and dorms, as well as educating students on issues affecting students of color. The members also help facilitate voter registration and volunteer opportunities. 

“I joined after I got back from studying abroad in Japan,” said Dai’jah Todd, a member of the NAACP at GVSU. “I felt a longing to come back, do some advocacy work and help people become more aware of my culture because that’s what I was doing in Japan. They were getting things done and I wanted to be a part of that.”

The GVSU chapter of the NAACP has hosted several events on campus, including a presentation on gentrification in the neighborhoods of Detroit, Chicago, Brooklyn and Flint; a lecture on feminism and how it intersects with African-American issues; and a discussion of the importance of Native American headdresses.

“I think because (the events we host) are usually LIB-approved, (it’s) drawing on a different crowd,” said Maria Hamming, a financial officer for the NAACP at GVSU. “(That) is always the nicest part, to see people show up to some of these events that maybe you wouldn’t necessarily expect. We try to always have our events be very open and try to have a conversation so everyone feels welcome to share their opinions. But I think what’s always nice to see is that people can just walk away with a different stand point, a different viewpoint. 

“We’re not saying you have to agree or disagree, but you’re just getting an opportunity to hear other people talk about something that’s affecting them and a chance to see it (in) a different way.”

The NAACP meets from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Kirkof Center Thornapple Room every other Monday night. More information can be found on the organization’s social media platforms—including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook—or by emailing [email protected]