Host of NewsOne Now, Roland Martin, talked with Cornell W. Books, President and CEO of the NAACP, from the floor of this year’s annual convention about how the recent youth movement is powering the Civil Rights Movement.
Brooks also discussed the focus of the storied civil rights organization for the next 365 days.
Brooks told Martin as a result of “young people with their mobile devices who are literally documenting the civil rights history that is happening right now,” more people are joining the movement for social justice “that have not been a part of any movement before.”
Brooks highlighted the communities of Ferguson and Staten Island, where young activists participated in sit-in and die-in protests as a response to the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, as proof of the increased numbers of young people joining the movement.
With the growing number of young activists taking a stand for justice, Brooks said, “This convention today, this week is among our best attendance in years — we’re bursting at the seams with young people.”
When asked about the criticism of legacy civil rights organizations “not fully understanding what is going on” and “not responding fast enough,” Brooks explained, “The NAACP as a legacy organization has more digital activists than organizations that are younger and newer.”
“We have a huge online presence,” said Brooks. “You got to tell the story and you got to show up and you got to let people know you are showing up.”
“It’s not enough for us to be in the convention — do that — we have to do and let people know what we do so often all around the country, which is to say we have boots on the ground, as well as we do putting laws on the books.”
When Martin asked Books about the focus of the NAACP over the next 365 days, Brooks explained, “We have to equip an army of activists to actually bring about reform.”
Brooks touted the Journey for Justice, a march of 860 miles from Selma, Alabama to Washington D.C., as an example of equipping activists through instruction, Google Hangouts, and allowing young activists to become involved in the movement. He also included training young activists in the art of getting legislation passed, which will help institute change in our communities.
With criminal justice reform taking the forefront in recent months, President Barack Obama‘s upcoming address to the convention – during which he is expected to address the issue – and an increasing number of prominent conservative voices showing support for reform, Martin asked Brooks, “How do you see the NAACP standing with them on this issue?”
Brooks told Martin, “We’re a non-partisan organization, if you support a civil rights agenda, you’re with us. If, on the other hand, you are opposed to a civil rights agenda, you’re in opposition to us.”
Watch Roland Martin’s interview with Cornell W. Brooks, President and CEO of the NAACP, in the video clip above.
Subscribe to the “NewsOne Now” Audio Podcast on iTunes.