The NAACP has turned 100 years old. It has been seeking justice and blazing the path for people of color for 10 decades. It has been there for our communities, it is made up of our communities, and we, in turn, have made it strong. And yet, at the same time, have made it weak.
We have made it weak by thinking that it is obsolete. We have made it weak by saying that we can do it on our own, we need no help, we have finished the struggle.
We are dead wrong. We have only begun the fights that are ahead of us. Segregation on paper might be dead, but the remnants of that separation haunt us. Slavery might be dead, but the institutional racism that infects every part of society keeps us in bondage. We may have equality in education constitutionally, but then why are our children still dropping out at record rates and taking up more prison beds than college dorm rooms? We may have the first Black president, but to lead, he must have strong allies. WE must work together to make our communities stronger. We do not need to reinvent the wheel. We just have to strengthen the spokes.
The NAACP has been that wheel. The spokes are all of us and all of our institutions. The power that WE have when WE come together is mighty. The power we have when we choose to join forces is strong. The power of we can change the course in history and continue to make the lives of people of color better. One institution is strong, two are stronger and three, even stronger. But those institutions backed by millions cannot fail, because when you have that many legs, you cannot fall.
We choose to fail or to succeed. We have the power to do both. It is up to us to choose success; it is up to us to choose progress.
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation…want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters….Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
–Frederick Douglass, 1857
As the NAACP meets in New York this coming week, remember the words of Frederick Douglass and know that the struggle continues.