Editor’s note: The following commentary is a response to an opinion piece written by regular columnist Al Calloway that was published on June 5, headlined, “Is the NAACP dying in Florida and is this a national trend?”
As a member of the National Board of Directors, president of the Florida State Conference and president of the Miami-Dade Branch, I can attest that the NAACP is alive and getting stronger each day.
Civic Engagement: Our branches continue to raise awareness of state and local issues, supporting election reform and fighting against photo ID legislation, which has impacted several states. We recently held a statewide summit in Orlando with advocates from across the state discussing voter outreach and engagement. Our state was recognized for registering more than 140,000 new voters and we continue to add to these efforts.
Criminal Justice: We have been at the forefront of criminal and juvenile justice issues, from highlighting injustice for Trayvon Martin to emphasizing the issues with the Dozier School for Boys in north Florida. Many of our branches, including Jacksonville and Pensacola, held successful forums on repealing and reforming the “stand your ground” law. Our State Conference also continues to encourage county commissions and municipalities to handle juvenile justice matters at the local level.
Economic Development: Florida was selected by our National Office and the Tides Foundation to promote economic education and financial literacy across the state. We have touched more than 1,000 people, including hosting an Economic Empowerment Summit in May at the Florida A&M University School of Business and Industry. In a few months, we will conduct a statewide report card on spending practices of cities, counties, school boards and private sector firms.
Education: Our State Conference continues to make education a high priority in Tallahassee and, along with local school boards, ensuring all students have access to a quality public education. Recently, we held the Daisy Bates Institute in Fort Lauderdale highlighting the major issues continuing to impact minorities and we heard first-hand testimony from Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie, who is an African American leading the nation’s sixth largest school district.
Environmental Justice/Climate Justice: Florida has been one of the national leaders on climate justice in supporting clean energy, transportation equity, food justice and equity in urban/rural development.
Most recently, we unveiled a State Energy Report in central Florida highlighting the impact of climate change in our communities, as well as assets and opportunities for leadership in a new green economy.
Health: We continue to work with black minsters around the state promoting awareness on HIV/AIDS, highlighting the Affordable Health Care Act, shining a light on the disparities existing in our health care system and promoting free health screenings through a partnership with Walgreens and Broward Health in Fort Lauderdale. In March, hundreds of advocates joined us in Tallahassee as we announced our state legislative agenda, including rallying to support Medicaid expansion.
In short, the Florida State Conference of the NAACP continues to fight for the least, the lost and left out. I encourage my fellow advocates to join us for our State Convention in Panama City in a few months and our National Convention in Las Vegas July 19-23, where we will hear from our new President/CEO Cornell William Brooks. Please visit naacp.org to join us as we continue to be the voice of equality and justice for all.
Adora Nweze and the NAACP Florida State Conference may be reached at FSCNAACP@gmail