The relevance of the NAACP and other traditional Civil Rights Organizations is often discussed amongst Black college students. For over 100 years the NAACP has been the superior voice for civil rights in the black community. Presently the NAACP has the youngest national leadership duo of Chairman and President/CEO in the organizations history. Even with relatively young leadership and chapters active on many college campuses, the NAACP is losing relevance to this generation.
There once was a time when individuals in a community faced with an injustice first called their church and then their local NAACP branch. The NAACP was the vehicle that assisted them in finding a lawyer, drafting petitions, spreading the word through action alerts, organizing marches and advocating on their behalf. However, the bureaucracy of the NAACP, which required certain approval from different levels, complicated immediate responses often.
In a generation that finds pleasure in putting complete thoughts in 140 characters, sharing youtube links on facebook, and choosing the best filter on instagram. We are not used to waiting. Similarly, when we find ourselves faced with social injustice such as the recent killing of Ernest Hoskins, Jr., and Trayvon Martin, we do not have the time to wait on a response from the local NAACP branch. Change.org has usurped the NAACP as the primary vehicle to express social injustice. In less than two years, Change.org has over 20 million users in 196 countries. Through technology, anyone can start a campaign and mobilize others to challenge social ills. Unlike the NAACP you do not have to submit your petitions to a committee to debate over. Neither do you have to worry about who will take your issue to promote their own personal agenda. Change.org allows you to share your petitions through all social media outlets and spread the word to get others talking about your issue.
Also, unlike the NAACP, Change.org does not beg you for money. They have a very creative business model, “social enterprise, using the power of business for social good”. Similar to Youtube, Google and Twitter they receive funding in the form of advertisements.
As a generation that is plagued with modern forms of oppression and social injustice it behooves us to stay engaged. In order for our civil rights organizations to remain relevant they must modernize and adapt their structures to the current trends. As young people, we cannot give up on the NAACP. We must Let us roll up our sleeves and instead of waiting for our spot in line,..let’s start another line!
Do you think Change.org has made the NAACP irrelevant?
Stephen A. Green is a Junior Political Science and Religion Major at Morehouse College, Atlanta, Ga.