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Is the NAACP relevant to young people today? This activist says yes.

group of 10 African American people holding protest signs and the seal of the NAACP and smiling
Courtesy of Kyra Mitchell
Social media has been a catalyst for getting young people involved in social justice movements, says Kyra Mitchell.

Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People calls itself the “oldest and the boldest” civil rights organization. But some question whether the NAACP is as bold as it could be.

While Black Lives Matter activists are fighting police brutality in the city streets of America, the NAACP is better known for working within the system. But does that strategy resonate with a younger generation of civil rights activists?  

We talk to Kyra Mitchell, who serves as youth vice president for the Michigan State Conference of the NAACP, ahead of the organization's 110th National Convention in Detroit this weekend. 


Mitchell has been involved with the NAACP for years. She became interested in the group after seeing organizers make change in her hometown of Saginaw.


“Civil rights has always been a passion of mine, and it will continue to be a passion of mine,” Mitchell said.


It's been particularly difficult in recent years to get youth energized about civil rights, but Mitchell says that's changing. Social media, she says, has increased civil rights awareness and action, and the speed at which news travels makes it easier for young people to stay informed. 


Mitchell says the election of Donald Trump has also contributed to increased activism and engagement among young people. Ironically, she says, the increase in “overt” racism has a silver lining as it energizes young people to get involved in social justice movements.


“People are a lot more willing to be involved when there’s a lot more stuff happening because they want to help be a part of that change,” Mitchell said.


Mitchell says she is excited to host this year’s NAACP National Convention in her home state. Though she’s still a student, she’s been an active part of the planning process. According to Mitchell, the group’s leadership is aware of the importance of young people's voices, so her ideas are taken seriously.


“They actually listen to us because they know that young people were the groundwork, they were the power behind a lot of the civil rights movement.”


The NAACP’s 110th National Convention runs July 20-24 in Detroit, MI. The schedule features black leaders from across the country, including notable civil rights leaders. Several presidential candidates have also planned appearances there. 

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