At 101, NAACP recognizes digital tools’ necessity for civil rights

Even though National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has been sending e-mail blasts, and posting materials online for years, it’s NEW video-intensive Web site reflects a forward-looking digital strategy that is a MUST-HAVE for involving a younger generation in the fight for civil rights.

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As  a life member of the NAACP,  I am so excited  to see the nation’s largest civil rights organization moving into the digital age “with all deliberate speed” (as the saying goes).

Even though National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has been sending e-mail blasts, and posting materials online for years,  it’s NEW video-intensive Web site reflects a forward-looking digital strategy that is a MUST-HAVE for involving a younger generation in the fight for civil rights.

“We are not your grandfather’s NAACP.  We are your NAACP,” said Andrea Brown-Gee, the organization’s national director of membership via a YouTube video.

I think that quote says it all.

Accessing Annual Convention Online

It’s been a year since I sat online and watched Benjamin Jealous give his address to the 100th convention in New York and his predecessor, Benjamin Lawson Hooks give what was his last major address to the organization he served for years as executive director.  (Dr. Hooks passed away earlier this year)

But, this year, I have already watched videos from convention attendees and updated photo galleries of pre-convention events via the organization’s Flickr feed.

Even though I won’t be in Kansas City for the events, I can still participate virtually through the online community that is building around the convention via Facebook and Twitter.

As of tonight, the @NAACP Twitter feed has some 5,000 plus followers.  The national headquarters still  did live blogging from tonight’s address by Board Chairman Roslyn Brock.  They even have a Twitter hashtag #NAACP  and #NAACP101 just for convention-related tweets.

This move shows that those in NAACP leadership recognize the press conferences that we used do back in the 1980s when I was in the NAACP Youth Council are but one tool for getting out a message.  Social media via outlets like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are necessary as well.

Board Chairman Brock’s PGA Strategy

My friend from high school and college when I was active in NAACP Youth and College Division, Roslyn Brock, gave a rousing address as our organization’s Chairman of the Board, the youngest to hold that post.

She talked about her P-G-A strategy that focuses on policy, governance and accountability.

I won’t go into detail here about her address.  But, in introducing her Dr. Jamal Bryant, who was formally director of our NAACP Youth and College Division, noted that Brock will be somebody who will “break the system”  and make the necessary changes.

I wholeheartedly agree.

Technology Upgrade 20+ Years Later

The last time I attended an NAACP National Convention was when I was a graduating senior from high school.    That would have been 22 years ago in 1988 when I was the first runner-up for the National “Mr. NAACP” Freedom Fund Contest.

A lot has changed since then– technologywise.    The Internet was not a viable public medium.  I still had an Apple IIE computer at home, but was using a Macintosh Plus at school.

I would go on to accumulate (and still have) about 50 or more 3.5 inch floppy diskettes with all the schoolwork I was saving on Macintosh computers at Howard University, my undergraduate alma mater.

Today’s 3.5 inch floppy diskettes are 2 MB flash (thumb drives) and we deliver information via cell phone.

Some things DON’T CHANGE

What HAS NOT CHANGED in 22 years is the need to continue the fight for human and civil rights.   The agenda for the NAACP, a multi-racial organization from its inception in 1909, is broader including issues such as health care and environmental justice.      Along with the broader agenda, it must broaden its tool to reach a younger generation.

In an earliest post when he was appointed 22 months ago, Benjamin Jealous got my support as a forward-looking former journalist who is now executive director of the NAACP.

I see Mr. Jealous and my friend, Roslyn Brock, as exactly what America (Not just African Americans) needs if  we will continue to see the NAACP as a viable, relevant grass-roots organization scoring victories in the ongoing fight for civil rights.

I’ll be watching and posting my thoughts as the NAACP Convention continues this week.

Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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