Is there a present-day “relevancy” of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for Blacks and other groups experiencing civil rights disparity? A resounding yes is the consensus, according to those who support the continued membership growth, youth educational development and community training activities of the politically non-partisan, grassroots-based NAACP.
“The NAACP is still the most influential and relevant voice in the fight for social justice,” stated NAACP Vice Chairman Leon Russell.
Halting and reversing “voter suppression,” which has been a major NAACP focus for much of its existence since 1909, remains a major point of discussion and action-planning throughout its five-day national “All In for Justice & Equality” convention and beyond.
Recently documented voter interference tactics and controversial changes to some states’ laws aimed at weakening Black political participation and political growth in many U.S. states has sparked a new urgency to counter efforts that essentially roll back Voter Rights Act protections, according to NAACP leaders and other civil rights defenders.
Roslyn M. Brock, NAACP national board chairperson, expressed her excitement that Las Vegas is this year’s host city in her written statement ahead of the convention. She also addressed the importance of voter protection:
“In this pivotal election year, it is especially important for us to address voter suppression and the challenges facing communities of color and the nation as a whole. …We know that we cannot fully recover as a nation unless we are courageous, stand in solidarity and get out the vote,” she stated.
“The NAACP will continue to educate, mobilize and agitate to create an informed and engaged populace and continue the work in ensuring every American has unfettered access to the ballot box.”
Elected officials, civic leaders and celebrities addressed members and guests at the Sunday evening awards banquet, took part in discussions, or otherwise supported the organization’s robust agenda, increasing the venue’s vast networking benefit.
Russell gave opening remarks; featured speaker Brock also presented a series of recognition awards during the banquet. A local political pioneer, Congressman Steven Horsford, the first Black U.S. representative from Nevada, was introduced and greeted banquet guests; U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from Nevada spoke remotely from
Washington, D.C. Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to be the featured presenter at the closing luncheon today and will take part in the afternoon plenary focusing on the future of civil rights.
Convention activities included several days of in-depth conferences,workshops and sessions covering topics such as health and wellness, education, advanced technology and legal justice, along with musical entertainment.
The Tuesday Diversity Career Fair offered the public a chance to connect with local and national companies for jobs or to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities.
Las Vegas NAACP Branch President Frank Hawkins Jr. stated: “[We] are pleased to welcome and privileged to host the 2014 NAACP National Convention. …As we continue the fight for equality and social justice for all Americans, our [local branch] and the Las Vegas community extend every hospitality and want to ensure a positive and meaningful experience for all members and participants.”
National NAACP organizers invite new and renewing memberships or inquiries from businesses and other groups at www.naacp.org. Connect with the local branch at www.naacplv.org or call (702) 638-1300.