By Shamaya Bowen
As part of my fellowship with the NAACP Hollywood Bureau, I was able to attend my first NAACP Convention.This year, the 109th Annual NAACP Convention was held in San Antonio, TX and the theme was “Defeat Hate: VOTE.”
After I arrived at the convention center, I turned to my fellow intern, Kalee, and said “Doesn’t it kinda feel like we’re just at a big family reunion?” She laughed and nodded her head in agreement. While it was a joke initially, with each day of the convention, this was proven to be more true. There was a level of comfort and familiarity with each person I met. The unspoken bond created out of wanting the best for our communities, filled every interaction. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to as many people as I did that week. As draining as it may sound, it wasn’t.
Each day of the convention fostered engagement between attendees about civic duty, civil rights and the overall advancement of people of color. Through various panels, the NAACP invited members and non-members alike to discuss police brutality, job opportunities, mental health, media representation and a wealth of other topics. While I didn’t get to attend much due to having to work behind the scenes, I thoroughly enjoyed the few panels I was able to attend. My favorite being the Youth and College Public Mass Meeting. Moderated by Van Lathan, the panelists discussed the role of being a young activist against various forms of oppression specifically, police brutality. Of all the panels I attended, this was the largest attended. To see so many young people confident in their opinions and roles as activists, challenging the methods and ideologies of those thought to be wiser due to their age, the only word that comes to mind to describe it is: ENERGIZING.
And I’d use that word to describe my entire experience at the convention. At the end of each day, no matter how physically or mentally tired I was from working, I felt energized and ready to be more active in my community and in life in general. The convention instilled a confidence and self assuredness that we, as people of color, sometimes lose. But luckily, we have moments where we congregate together to remind one another of the power we hold both collectively and individually. That was my takeaway from the convention and I can’t wait to reunite with my NAACP family next year.
Motor City, here we come!