Sunday, May 25, 2008

Reflections from the 4th Annual NAACP Leadership 500 Summit

I'm just leaving Arizona on way my home after attending the 4th annual NAACP Leadership 500 summit. The annual summit was started as an effort to gather young professional leaders (ages 35 - 45) from around the country to share ideas and best practices, and to have a real dialogue about the future of activism and the movement. This year's summit was phenomenal. The speakers were timely and informative and each brought useful information that we can and need to incorporate into our work within the NAACP. While I had intended to post yesterday about the events I had attended, the day seemed so full that this is the first moment I've had to really stop and share.

Friday began with an early morning breakfast session keynoted by Dr. Robert Michael Franklin; President of Morehouse University and NAACP Life Member. Dr. Franklin highlighted the importance of networking and maximizing our outcomes by working together and taking advantage of the unique skills and abilities each of us bring to the table. He polled the room and showed that the attendees were almost equally representative of the Public Sector, Private Sector, Non-Profit, and Church communities, and he challenged us all to commit to being collaborative in our efforts. He also brought forward 7 initiatives that he recommended that the NAACP should champion.

A Call to Renewal & Reconciliation
This would be a call to the Churches, Non-profits, business community and the black community as a whole to take a critical look inward at the status of our community and our culture and to forgive one another

A Call to Conversation
This he described as a call to engage the community to engage the community in dialogue about the status of our families and relationships.

A Call for Collaborative Leadership
This would be a call to the Organizations, Churches, Civic Leaders, and concerned community activists and Grass-Roots folks to lay aside our differences, then to move forward together, unified in our purpose.

A Focus on Vision & Planning
This is to ensure that while there will necessarily be times when we must react to crises, we must not allow ourselves to become reactionary in our methods or our focus. rather we should be visionary and look to address issues before they become crises.

Increased Accountability
That we, and particularly our youth, should hold us accountable for our efforts and outcomes.

A Focus on Sustainability and Fundraising
That we should look towards implementing sustainable practices and develop new and reliable sources for organizational funding.

& an effort to Document and Celebrate our own successes
and that we should become more effective and deliberate about documenting our efforts and outcomes so that we may provide both a record and a blueprint for those who come after us.



Dr Franklin's presentation was followed by a Special General session on the status of African-American Women in America. Serving on the panel were Shonta Chambers; National Board member of the American Heart Association, Cheryl D Broussard; CEO of Cheryl Broussard and Co, and the author of Sister CEO: The Black Woman's guide to starting your own business. Vivian Stringer; Head Coach of the Rutgers University Women's Basketball Team and Author of Standing Tall: A Memoir of tragedy & triumph. & Terrie M Williams; President and Founder of the Terrie M Williams Agency and Author of Black Pain: It just looks like we're not hurting...

This was a very informative and also incredibly personal and emotional session. I was able to video several portions of this session and as soon as I can get a moment to edit and assemble the clips, I will begin posting them here on the blog. Keep checking the Video bar near the bottom of the right hand column. But clearly the highlight of the session was the presentation by Terrie Williams who dealt with the issues of mental and emotional health. (part 1 of her talk is now posted in the video bar near the bottom of the right-hand column) As she spoke, women in the audience began share their own personal testimonies of having dealt with low grade depression, the expectations of others that you would always be "the strong one" and the need to wear so many hats in society. (Wichita Folks - keep watching for her name, as I intend to bring both Terrie Williams and Cheryl Brussard to Wichita to be a part of our Local Call to Renewal & Discussion as suggested by Dr. Franklin)

After those two Powerful sessions, LN Rock (the African American Political Pundit) and I sat down with Stephanie Brown; the NAACP National Director of the Youth and College Division, and talked at length about integrating Internet Advocacy into the NAACP program. Stephanie was excited and on-board and I certainly look forward to working with her in establishing unit level blogs throughout the Association that will allow us to control our own message and define our own brand. We have committed that when we get to our Centennial Celebration in New York City, we will have no less than 200 NAACP blogs in operation.

Saturday kicked off with a presentation from Micheal Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Roberts Companies. Mr. Roberts (also an NAACP Life Member) is one of the most successful businessmen in the country overseeing a Hotel enterprise, Lofts, Shopping Centers, Communications Towers, privately held television broadcasting networks, cabinetry companies, and even small charter jet services. He spoke to us all about the need to take action, forgetting about fear or failure. He even challenged us all to Stop thinking out of the box, because to do so, you first have to accept the parameters of th ebox. He stressed that we should become "actionairres" who think, plan, and execute without regard for artificial or imposed limits.

We then had a townhall meeting which dealt with the topic: Race & Religion in American politics. The panel consisted of Mr. Randall Pinkett - business mogul and winner of the last season of "the Apprentice" with Donald Trump, Rev Otis Moss III - successor to Rev. Jerimiah Wright as Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, Odora Obi Nweze - Florida State NAACP President, Roland Martin - Reverend, Author, journalist, and CNN Commentator, Tara Wall - Journalist for the Washington Times and former Director of Outreach Communications for the Republican National Committee, and yours truly!!!

The final banquet was keynoted by our newly named President and CEO Benjamin T. Jealous. President Jealous spoke at length about his vision for the association and all were duly impressed. I had a brief opportunity to speak with President Jealous as well, and we talked about ways that the NAACP can further incorporate methods of Internet Activism through NAACP blogs, networks and collaboration with existing Black Blog networks like the Afrospear. President Jealous was clearly on board, and asked that I hold him to his word that we will work together on making this happen. Working together with Stephanie Brown (the Director of Youth and College) LN Rock (the African American Political Pundit and New Member) and with the full committed support of our Vice Chair Roslyn Brock and our new President and CEO Benjamin T. Jealous, I believe we are about to see a true refinement and positive expansion of our protest methodologies.

And in between all these events, there were even more workshops on Education, Civic Engagement, Political activism, the role of the Church, and a seminar on the etiquette of business Golf.

Over the next few days I will post a number of pictures and videos from the summit and links to additional information on the presenters. Kudos to Vice Chair Roslyn Brock for an excellent and informative summit, and we will work our hardest to see that next year's summit is even bigger and better.


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g-e-m2001 May 25, 2008 at 8:33 PM  

I hope you are right. I have been reading more about Jealous and I am hopeful, yet reticent. The impression I have garnered is that all of the NAACP's ails lie with the national board. That is probably not true, but that is the "conventional wisdom"

I am glad you and AAPP got together and had a conversation. I think as bloggers, it will be very hard to build relationships with traditional organizations, their entire foundation is based on face to face meetings and personal history and human interaction, something that the internet, no matter how awesome the technology, can never replicate.

I hope they continue to focus on Black women.

naacpprez1 May 25, 2008 at 10:36 PM  

Hello Bro. President,
I appreciate you holding it down at the 500 this weekend. As a 35 year old branch President myself, I am sure it was great to interact with likeminded individual. I look forward to talking with you in the near future, and I will be posting here on a regular basis. We have a blog here in Dallas, so you can add us to the list.

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