‘We shall not be moved’

Ben Glick

We shall not be moved. That is the tagline from the past National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Youth and College division summit, where three out of five representative seats are filled by students from Grand Valley State University.

“It’s a huge honor to have people from Grand Valley,” said Rebecca Williams, the secretary of the GVSU branch.

On Sept. 20, the regional conference of the Youth and College division of the NAACP took place in Kalamazoo with about 200 delegates representing many Michigan high schools and universities. This annual gathering joined to elect chairpersons to the state body, and three out of five state seats were secured by GVSU students: Kayla Jones, president of the GVSU branch, Darnell Cole, vice-president, and Rebecca Williams, secretary. They now plan to further the mission of the NAACP at the local, university and state levels.

The GVSU branch of the NAACP Youth and College division was chartered in 2011, organized in 2012, and now in 2013 represents a majority in the state body.

“It’s been remarkable how fast the organization had grown on-campus,” Williams said. “It’s been an honor to work with the chapter. We all take the mission of the NAACP seriously.”

Williams said all the different chapters across the state contributed their own candidates to be considered for election.

“Through those delegates, representatives from other state chapters were selected,” she said. “We all voted on the representatives we wanted to hold those positions, which just happened to be us.”

Williams, a junior, got involved with the local NAACP branch after a friend of hers encouraged her to join.

“I was interested in advocacy groups outside of Grand Valley when a good friend of mine was in the group the year before and encouraged me to join,” she said. “I was interested to support them and help the community, help organize and create effective change.”

With the help of NAACP coordinator Toine Murphy, the GVSU branch of the organization was able to advance. Now representing GVSU at the regional level, the three hope to address issues of race in all institutions of higher learning in the state.

“Our goal now is to see cohesion despite ethnicity,” Williams said. “We want consensus of different individuals at the university level.”

Many of these issues were covered at the conference, including voting rights, youth crime rates and affirmative action. Williams and the other members discussed measures they could take to contend with these issues at home—much of which involves grass-roots activism inspired from the lecture series they hosted earlier in the year.

“What we learned there is how to be effective and to be united,” Williams said.

The goal now for the trio is to help organize events and groups to help the community, especially in Grand Rapids where the local branch is trying to establish a Boys and Girls club in the area.

“We and the board members will do it, we just need to organize workers and work out the logistics,” Williams said. “There’s just so much to do and so little time to do it in.”

Now with the experience she gained at the state conference, Williams is eager to help others carry out the mission of the NAACP and create constructive and effective change.

“We heard the stories of past leaders who organized and showed the power of the youth,” she said. “We want other people motivated to be more affirmative.”