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When We Fight We Win!” Peoria is represented at the 110th NAACP Convention By Spanky Edwards

On July 19, 2019, five Peorians, Jessica Thomas, Marcus Hamilton, Taryn Bradley, La’Rie Suttle, Nia Drye, and I journeyed to Detroit, MI to attend the second NAACP NextGen Training and the 110th NAACP National Convention. This year’s convention theme was, “When We Fight, We Win!” The NAACP Next Generation Program (NextGen) is a 12-month leadership development training program for young adults between the ages of 21 and 35 to receive comprehensive leadership and advocacy training to develop leadership competencies to become effective civil rights leaders.  The NextGen program features a series of trainings, including leadership development, legislative action, unit administration, advocacy and program planning consistent with the six NAACP Game Changer areas, which include economic sustainability, education, health, criminal justice, political action and youth engagement.

The NAACP Convention in Detroit is so special to me personally because the first national convention that I ever attended was in Detroit in 2007, 12 years ago. This convention was nothing short of magnificent! We had an opportunity to listen to leading activist, aspiring politicians, business owners, and modern trendsetters. Proud Americans like: liberation theologist, Rev. Dr. Fredrick D. Haynes, political commentators and my Morehouse Brothers Shaun King and Shermichael Singelton; White House Correspondent, April D. Ryan; former candidate for Governor of Georgia, Stacey Abrams; Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi; National Action Network President, Rev. Al Sharpton; Rainbow Push President, Rev. Jesse Jackson; Radio Host, Joe Madison; former President of Spelman College, Dr. Johnetta B. Cole; TVOne News Anchor, Roland Martin; Black-ish TV star, Miles Brown; and “The Squad” member, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. The other highlights were the Presidential Candidates Forum attended by former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, and Bill Weld.

We met activist from all over the country whom are engaged in every area of their communities. It was the epitome of Black Excellence, like an HBCU Homecoming, family reunion and a holy convocation all wrapped in one life-changing experience. One of the most monumental events that occurred at this convention was the NAACP unanimously passed a resolution calling for the impeachment of Donald Trump. To experience this vote in person was profound! We attended workshops and trainings on subjects such as: criminal justice reform, economic opportunity, Black in Tech, health, environmental and climate justice and education. We heard from and networked with prominent lawyers, doctors, representatives of Fortune 500 Companies, and grassroots organizers.

Not only do NAACP Young Adults work hard for our people, we play hard as well! Our NextGen Cohort vibed out to 70’s Hip Hop pioneers Kool Moe D and Doug D. Fresh, Kem, and Tamia, who performed amazing concerts. We danced at Detroit’s finest night clubs, including starlit rooftops and even a yacht with fireworks! I taught a clinic in Chicago Steppin, but I also learned a new step, a line dance called the “Detroit Shuffle”, also known as the “The Ballroom Hustle”. It is a foot pattern the Detroit natives do to all R&B songs! I was thrilled to learn it and add a Spanky Twist to it.