By: Alyse Nelson
Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech is now fifty years in the past, but its effects are still being felt today.
R&B plays loudly over the speakers of the auditorium, mixing with the murmur of voices. The officers of the club face the growing crowd, dressed sharply in blazers and dresses. The voices hush as the music is silenced and the meeting begins.
The NAACP, or the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was founded in 1909. The group’s website states, “The NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.” The national organization, which is thousands of members strong, has had a chapter on our campus for four years.
The NAACP held a meeting on Sept. 4 in Patterson Hall. The highlight of the evening was commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
The March on Washington is the historic event that advocated further legislation for civil rights. During the march Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Thousands rallied for the cause and participated in the march.
Time was also spent playing a trivia game and welcoming new members. “I am looking forward to new life in the group. The freshmen seem very excited,” said Keiontra Brooks, a sophomore theater major from Hoover.
The organization meets the first and third Wednesday of every month in Patterson Hall 107 at 5 p.m. “Membership dues are $20 or $35 with a t-shirt,” said club president, Quenton Martin, a sophomore public administration major from Tuscaloosa. Dues will be collected at the next meeting on September 18th, which everyone is invited to attend.
The Troy chapter of the NAACP will be very active during the next two semesters. “We are always involved in community service,” said Martin. Notably, there will be a dance-a-thon in October to benefit breast cancer awareness and research.
The Speak On It forums are also an activity the members enjoy. The forums consist of panels of students discussing a chosen subject and are open to the entire student body. “I like that the forums allow freedom of speech,” stated Brooks. The forum that occurred after the Sept. 4 meeting was entitled “A Dollar and a Dream.”
The NAACP will hold several other events throughout the year in addition to its regular meetings, including special arrangements for Black History Month and a pageant in the spring. The group also hopes to find more ways to become involved in campus life as the semester progresses.
The members and advisors are, nonetheless, very passionate about the organization. “I joined because we stand for something. I noticed many clubs on campus do not seem focused on why they started. But we stay true to what we stand for and stay involved on campus,” Brooks said.
Dr. LaKerri advises the organization, along with three co-advisors. She speaks highly of the Troy chapter of the NAACP. “It is becoming more inclusive to all people – that’s something I want to be a part of,” Dr. LaKerri said
The meeting concludes after a speech by the club president and presentations on the March on Washington and other important events in the civil rights movement.
Martin stands for his speech and with a laugh he assures everyone that he is “no MLK when it comes to speeches,” but his voice then fills the room with a simple message: many freedoms have been earned since the first march, and the issues have changed greatly. However, it is not time to put our marching shoes away.
“How can we not march when students in Troy, Ala. are still separated by skin color and financial status?” This follows a string of other questions concerning issues facing us today in terms of equality.
As he concludes, the room is filled with applause.