From the New Director of the Youth & College Division, Sammie Dow

Cross-posted from NAACPConnect

On February 1, 1960, four freshmen from North Carolina A&T State University marched from their dormitories to the downtown Woolworth Lunch Counter, in Greensboro, NC, with the intention of being served a meal without consideration for the color of their skin. With steadfast resolution, they sat for hours, though they were never served. They rose from their seats, made their way back to campus for a debriefing and went back the very next day. By week's end, students from Bennett College and other schools across the country had joined what would later be deemed a major movement of the 1960's civil-rights era.

The tenacity, courage and bravery of the students who launched the sit-in movement always give me great joy and it challenges me to examine my personal commitment to fighting to eradicate the injustices our society paints as moral and acceptable. While an undergraduate student at North Carolina A&T, I enjoyed the privilege of shaking hands with the 3 living sit-in students and hearing their stories of fear and how they planned the protests. However, as I examine the present landscape of our country and the ensuing Presidential election, I have become no longer content with merely reading, digesting and reciting history. I recognize the fierce urgency for young people across this nation to accept our call to sound our voices and mobilize our actions to "sit-in" against the present day's "lunch counters" and work towards a more just, more fair, more equal nation.

As your youth and college director, my commitment is solid, yet simple. I will work to build relationships and partnerships that equip young people to develop their voice - a voice of courage and a voice willing to challenge the status quo, no matter how large or powerful the target may appear. No more are the days of the youth voice being used only to poetically recite history. We must resurrect our desire to seek change and never back down or concede to the unjust systems that seek to rescind the liberties we are all guaranteed. The inclusion in history belongs only to those bold enough to do something worth remembering. I know the Youth and College Division is bold and ready for the work ahead of us; my heart is warmed at the thought of working with each of you.

Over the next few months, I will be traveling the country extensively with the desire to meet as many youth and college students as possible. If I don't get to speak with you before Election Day on November 6, I want to challenge you to do 3 things:

1. #VOTE: Never before has our vote been so important and crucial to the direction of this country. Several states offer early voting; if your state offers early voting, take advantage of the opportunity so you can spend November 6 encouraging others to make it happen!

2. Take 4 people to #VOTE: Who throws a party and doesn't invite anyone? No one! So why not apply the same thought to voting? It just feels better when you vote in groups! Friends don't let friends not vote.

3. JOIN us: The Youth and College Division needs YOU! We're excited to welcome back old members who want to renew their membership and we're even more excited to meet those who may choose to join us for the very first time. Membership is simple and definitely has its privileges. If you have a desire to change your community and a passion for promoting equality for ALL people, the NAACP is where you need to be.

I'm so excited for the work ahead of us and I can't wait to meet you. This will be the journey of a lifetime, built one step at a time.