Saida Maalin | Contributor
Riverside County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) Youth Council and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity held their first Zoom meeting on June 19 to learn, pray and remember the importance of Juneteenth.
The meeting was led by UCR Director of African Student Programs Jamal Myrick, also an Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity member, who expressed the importance of ensuring this movement isn’t just a moment as we continue the conversation and call to action.
“The voices are being heard, voices that are historically marginalized,” said Myrick.
For the week of June 22 through June 26, Zoom meetings will be held to continue learning about a wide range of topics to benefit youth and those interested in participating in the conference.
“This is a time for celebration. We can be the people that sit in the tension and sit in the middle. We can be happy and excited to celebrate Black excellence and we can be upset, frustrated and mad at systemic oppression when we talk about anti-Blackness,” said Myrick.
The youth council welcomed guest speaker Derrick Lewis, NAACP Youth and College Division National Field Advisor, who gave a lengthy testimony providing clarity and insight on how we can achieve political power by collectively working together to build a better future for generations to come.
“What we do is we advocate for change, we want to make sure we make Democracy work. Through those roles we have to understand what is our own individual power and influence,” said Lewis, “Once we understand our collective power we have the capacity to advocate for issues to get us toward liberation.”
Some of the issues Lewis discussed were Economic Development, Education, Criminal Justice, Gun Violence and Environmental Justice all of which he said are connected through voting. Our collective vote can implement and gear us toward the future we wish for ourselves and our community.
The meeting closed with a Poem “Dear White America” by Danez Smith and then a Call and Response to say the names of some of the victims we lost to police brutality.
“We won’t stop until we are truly free. We weren’t free when we came into this country and we’re not free today,” said Sharron Lewis 1st Vice President of NAACP Riverside Chapter.
Topics that will be covered in the upcoming meetings include how to handle police encounters while protesting; what it means to be Black in America; information regarding Riverside’s elected officials; the importance of voting; a call to action on current legislation; and information regarding how you can make a difference.
A powerful and emotional Call and Response saying the names of those killed because of police brutality brought tears to participants as each name was called out.
To get involved with the upcoming Week of Action meetings the same zoom link will be used, registration is available here.
For young people interested to make a change and feel empowered within your community NAACP Youth Council is accepting new members.
The next meeting will be held June 23 to understand your rights during protests and when encountering police.