My relationship with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People started during my high school career when I developed a close relationship with Madeline Taylor, the Executive Director of the Memphis Branch of the NAACP. The NAACP was founded on February 12th, 1909, by a diverse group of individuals that included Mary White Ovington, Oswald Garrison Villard, William English Walling, Dr. Henry Moscovitz, W.E.B. Dubois, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Mary Church Terrell. This integrated group of people initially united in response to the violence and disparities that existed among blacks in the United States – they would formulate a mission that is still being fulfilled today. That mission is “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.”
With all of the work that the NAACP has done from past to present and what this organization stands for today, I felt like Christian Brothers University would benefit from a Collegiate Chapter of the NAACP. CBU’s LaSallian values of faith, service, and community run parallel with the goals that the NAACP is trying to achieve. We are located in a city that still has racial disparities in the school system and especially in the socioeconomic experiences of Memphians. Our community is in desperate need of a generation of “change-makers” who are willing to bridge the gaps and create opportunities in education, politics, and the economy. By building on both CBU and the NAACP’s rich heritages of community involvement, CBU’s Collegiate Chapter of the NAACP strives to grow this new generation of change-makers through our various committee and action meetings.
Earlier this semester, we sponsored a conversation with Brother Terence McLaughlin. This was an important event for us because the changes he instituted in the Christian Brothers community are still present today. A “change-maker” when change was needed, but not necessarily welcomed, Br. Terence, as President of Christian Brothers College in the 1960s, opened the doors for the first African-American student, Jesse Turner, to receive an education from CBC. During the February 27 conversation, Br. Terence discussed events from the 1960s and today, including the incident that recently occurred in Oxford, where three students from Georgia had draped a noose around the statue of James Meredith, the first African-American admitted to the University of Mississippi. Br. Terence’s message was that much had changed in fifty years to make society more equal, but that we still have work to do.
As the president of CBU’s NAACP Collegiate Chapter, I will be sure we work to create a diverse community of college students who are active and effective change-makers within both the CBU and Memphis communities. This university was a leader in the past, and we must work to expand the legacy Br. Terence and so many others have built for us.
Taylor Flake is a graduate of Arlington High School, where she was the first African-American Senior Class President in the school’s history. She continues to make and study history at CBU. If you would like to collaborate with or join CBU’s NAACP Chapter please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.