Leadership 500 Summit Explores Strategies for NAACP’s Second Century

The NAACP visited Destin, Florida over Memorial Day Weekend to discuss the most pressing issues facing communities of color today at the eighth annual Leadership 500 Summit. Founded in 2005 by current NAACP Chairman Roslyn Brock, this year’s Leadership 500 Summit welcomed hundreds of executives, educators, managers, thought leaders, community organizers and aspiring leaders for a chance to network and engage with the 103-year-old civil rights organization.

The centerpiece of the weekend was Saturday’s town hall entitled “Protecting Our BMW’s: Black Men Walking”. The panel discussion, moderated by professor, author and cultural critic Michael Eric Dyson, discussed the challenges facing young men of color, ranging from racial profiling and police misconduct to hip-hop music and the importance of fatherhood.

The panelists included actor Marlon Wayans; filmmaker and activist Cle "Bone" Sloan; NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund Assistant Counsel Vincent Southerland; Connecticut NAACP State Conference President Scot X. Esdaile; and Bishop James W. Dixon II.

"America as a whole has never addressed the issue of race," said Southerland. "When you have the link between race and criminality, you need to confront the issue...not just Blacks but Whites, too."

Throughout the town hall, the panelists recognized the power of young people to help shift the climate of our country.

"The change that our nation needs to see is in your hands and not ours," said Dixon to a young teenager in the audience.

In addition to the town hall, participants attended two and a half days of workshops, interactive panel discussions and general sessions led by prominent non-profit, private sector and community innovators, all held at the Sandestin Resort in Destin.

The strategy sessions at Leadership 500 largely revolved around the five “game changer” initiatives that the NAACP has developed to help guide the organization in the next century of advocacy -- Economic Sustainability, Education, Health, Public Safety and Criminal Justice, and Voting Rights and Political Participation.

Leadership 500 was founded for the purpose of developing leaders through direct engagement, seminars and networking events designed to inspire, educate and motivate the next generation of leaders. Since its inception in 2005, Leadership 500 has served as a training ground for more than 3,500 mid-level professionals.

“Leadership 500 has established itself as the leading forum for business, non-profit and community leaders to tap into the world of advocacy and social justice,” stated NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock. “We encourage conversation that challenges our current assumptions and makes us rethink the landscape of the modern-day civil rights movement. Year after year, attendees leave with a sense of purpose and a plan to contribute to their communities in a meaningful way.”

For more information about the NAACP Leadership 500 Summit, visit www.L500.org, Like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter @Leadership500.