Sussex NAACP youth attend training institute
The event was highlighted by an impressive array of workshops featuring topics that dealt with environmental issues, healthcare, juvenile justice and education. While each session earned praise from the participants, a distinct buzz was in the air during the criminal justice workshop.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Director of Criminal Justice Robert Rooks declared that today’s criminal justice system was the greatest threat to civil rights accomplishments fought for over the past 50 years. After delivering several startling statistics and explaining the school-to-prison pipeline, he brought the sheer magnitude of the crisis facing black youths home with a thud. He decried increased investments in prisons and the criminal justice ethos pervading many schools, offering that a smart and safe policy that focuses on prevention and rehabilitation was a more practical solution.
Surprised by the dire statistics surrounding their peers, many of the young activists were eager to work to reverse the trends. “The stats and numbers dealing with black males, death and incarceration were astonishing,” said Mary Batten, who plans to study law when she graduates in two years. She indicated that the NAACP should form coalitions with other concerned citizens and groups to confront the problem. “Youth councils must first educate themselves about the different criminal justice issues, educate others and then come together to build ideas on how we can reduce these rates.”
Grace Batten II also felt it was important her peers receive the message and be proactive. “It’s important that young people get informed and educate themselves about some trends that may one day affect them,” she said.
The mission of the NAACP is “to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.” Created a century ago by a multiracial group of activists committed to ending the reign of terror and exploitation endured by blacks in this nation, the NAACP has brought positive change to America and the world. A century after its inception, the struggle continues and a new generation of freedom fighters is carrying the torch of justice and equality through the dark valley of despair.