Kent State’s NAACP chapter reassembles on campus, hosts tea party

Kara Taylor

The newly-reassembled National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ,or NAACP, Kent State chapter hosted a tea party Saturday for women to discuss the social issues of the modern-day minority woman.

Sounjanette Hagan, the NAACP chair of the political action committee, said the goal of this event was to raise awareness of the NAACP reinstatement and encourage minority women to gather as one and discuss the social and political issues that impact them on campus.

Hagan opened the event with a few words of encouragement.

“I hope at the end of the day we all feel like we met someone new, and we feel more confident speaking up about the issues that take place on our campus,” Hagan said.

Molly Shack, an organizer with the Ohio Student Association, was the key speaker and activity organizer of the event. Shack pairs with campuses and communities to fight for general educational justice issues amongst youth.

History of the NAACP Kent Chapter

• Founded at Kent State University in 1997.

• It was part of a coalition with Black United Students that lobbied and negotiated the total renovation of Oscar Ritchie Hall;

• It was the lead student organization in the Kent State University Hurricane Relief Effort Coalition (the others included the Undergraduate Student Senate, Black United Students, and the Kent African Student Association) that organized a clothing, food, and other supplies drive for some of the victims of Hurricane Katrina; adopted the shelter at the New Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana; and sent Christmas toys to the children in that shelter;

• Organized and effort to raise awareness on campus about the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and sponsored a resolution that passed through the Undergraduate Student Senate, and was forwarded to the President of the United States;

• KSU-NAACP worked with the faculty and staff group, Kent State United for the Gulf Coast, to plan and carryout alternative Spring Breaks and Christmas Breaks to help with the restoration efforts along the Gulf Coast (Biloxi, Pass Christian & Gulfport, Miss.) of this country during a five year period of time, following Hurricane Katrina;

• KSU-NAACP helped with an educational supply drive that collected educational materials that were sent to primary schools in Ghana;

• KSU-NAACP has regularly worked to raise awareness about AIDS; • It has been involved with voter education and registration throughout its existence here at KSU;

• It has participated in tutorial activities at the King Kennedy Community Center throughout its existence at KSU;

• KSU-NAACP has organized and presented student symposia on KSU’s campus;

• KSU-NAACP helped to establish the Racial Harassment Policy at KSU

“It is not about us having all the answers,” Shack said. “We try to facilitate a conversation and create a space where people can discuss the issues at hand.”

During the event, Shack asked general questions and each table of four or five discussed their answers amongst themselves. Facilitators sat at each table to aid in ensuring the conversation stayed on track.

Questions such as “As minority women, when do you feel mainstream or marginalized?” and “What women inspired your growth as an individual?” were asked.

Shack said women often define themselves by how they relate to men, and women today are faced with pressures such as staying beautiful, being professionals and raising a family.

The women discussed their identities and growth as women. At the end of each answer session, each table would select a representative to inform the room of what their table discussed.

The Kent State chapter of the NAACP reassembled in fall 2013 after a three-year hiatus.

“This was an organization that the board thought needed to be here on camps,” Hagan said. “This organization is a huge part of our history as African Americans, and we hope we can promote a foundation on campus for minority students to voice their issues.”

Hagan said the main goal of the NAACP for the rest of the semester into next year is to promote voter registration and push students to be more politically active.

Terry Mathis, president of NAACP Kent chapter, said she has a goal and a vision for the changes she wants to make here on campus for minority students.

“Our goal is not just to bring the issues to light, but to solve those issues,” Mathis said.

Mathis also said the organization wants to branch out of Oscar Ritchie and expand to the student center and other prominent buildings on campus.

Mathis said the organization wants to diversify all throughout campus. Many people do not know that the NAACP was founded by seven white people and two black people. This is an organization that can fight political and social issues for everyone.

The NAACP was founded on February 12, 1909, and since then has fought for rights and formed bills and rights such as the “Anti-Lynching Bill, Costigan and Wagner Bill and Voting Rights Act.” The organization also, worked with activists such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evers.

Contact Kara Taylor at [email protected].