Dreaming of a better future
NAACP president envisions more employment and higher educational achievement for African-American youth
By Gary Moody 02/26/2014
What is the meaning of vision?
Webster’s Dictionary defines vision as “something seen in a dream.”
Martin Luther King stated, “I have a dream.” It was said that King was a visionary.
But according to Webster’s Dictionary, a visionary is “one whose ideas or projects are impractical.”
Clearly, there is a gap between what dreamers and visionaries see and what is achievable, between what is and what is not possible, one which we at the NAACP Pasadena Branch are working hard to close.
Following in the footsteps of past presidents, I support the many causes of our local branch and the community that we serve. In 2013, this branch faced many challenges, and succeeded in spite of them.
This year’s Ruby McKnight-Williams Community Awards and scholarship banquet was a resounding success, primarily due to all the children we helped to achieve their goals and realize their dreams in education. This branch has given out hundreds of scholarships in the past 15 years, and it is my continued vision to seek accountability and a return on our investment in our youth and young adults who received these awards.
The Pasadena Branch has been given the enormous task of re-establishing its relationship with our youth and young adults in this community. Therefore, we must reach inward in order to reach out and establish truly active participation in the education of our youth and young adults, whether that education is achieved through the Pasadena Unified School District, charter schools, private schools, Rose City High School or Learning Works. There should be a concerted effort among the membership of this branch to foster this very practical and achievable vision of educational excellence in order to mentor and guide our youth and young adults.
It has been stated that the NAACP has not been “relative” in meeting the needs of the community, especially among our youth and young adults. Therefore, we have added a Youth/Young Adult Committee to our Executive Committee.
It has also been stated by many among our youth and young adults that there is “a communication gap” between our community elders and leaders advocating on the behalf of young people. It is my continued vision to regain that credibility among our youth and make our branch accountable as advocates in making our school board representatives accountable for bringing a curriculum to classrooms that is relevant to our youth — from the elementary level to high school and college.
Education is where the community has fallen victim. Our African-American males have slipped through the “cracks” in the current system. These cracks have, in turn, created a void in the economic and educational dreams of our young men. We know the problem, but it is also our responsibility and obligation to come up with creative solutions. The NAACP will take a leadership role, along with our faith-based community leaders, to continue establishing a coalition for training boys to become men.
It has continually been our women that have been bridging this gap for families as single parents raising boys, and they have done well. But there comes a time when the transition to manhood can only be achieved through a child’s relationship with good men of integrity, wisdom and spirituality. We can’t be wimps, pimps, players, procrastinators, or abusers. Being the head of a household is scriptural and natural. We have a calling that screams at us about accountability and responsibility. Our branch has shown in the past that men can lead, although women can lead as well. In my lifetime, there have two female presidents: McKnight-Williams and Effie Sapp. These were wonderful accomplishments. However, male leaders, especially men of valor with spiritual foundations, must report to duty.
Next in line is the accountability of our economic community. Our vision at the NAACP Pasadena Branch includes forcing our corporate community, private and public, to look locally for employees, minimize outsourcing and include our youth and young adults in the local workforce. We have no influence in the development of retail outlets in Old Pasadena, South Lake Avenue or Foothill Boulevard in East Pasadena. There are no visible collaborations between the PUSD and the city of Pasadena to give teeth to the First Source Agreement to assist local minority developers. At construction sites around the community, large and small, it is rare to see a black face. Minority construction companies are relegated to small jobs or brought onto larger jobs as subcontractors. This lack of minorities, especially African-American contractors, can be seen in our public sector as well. The city of Pasadena’s Water and Power and Public Works departments, for instance, have stated that their workers are “aging out,” but there are no local minorities, especially African Americans, given the opportunity to train for permanent positions with either agency. The NAACP Pasadena Branch will continue efforts at combating these shortcomings, as well as address what can be construed as “institutional racism.”
I cannot say that it will be an easy task, but these are goals that are reachable if we approach them collectively and collaboratively in order to give our youth and young adults an opportunity to compete on an equal playing field.
Education and knowledge are keys to creating an employable, entrepreneurial and successful young adult. Thus, being proactive through these endeavors can reduce the dysfunction in our community and lead to a healthier future.
These are visions that are both practical and achievable, but only if we work together.
Gary Moody is president of the NAACP Pasadena Branch.