Second Annual NAACP Juvenile Justice Expo
Melissa Nunez – General Assignment Reporter
In the Second Annual Juvenile Justice Expo, organized by the Southern NAACP, audiences heard a panel discussion regarding mentoring efforts for youths at risk in local communities, such as New Haven., said Montrel Morrison, SCSU-NAACP juvenile justice chair as well as coordinator for the Second Annual NAACP Juvenile Justice Expo.
The panelists from various organizations who were featured in Fridays expo included moderator, Edward Joyner, Board of Education member; Leonard Jahad, My Brother’s Keeper; Pastor Todd Foster, Gang of Dads; LaShay Saunders, Phenomenal I am; and Carlos Collazo, New Haven Boys and Girls Club. There was also a poetry selection from Attelah Sheppard and a choir selection from the New Haven Unity Boys Choir.
Morrison said the SCSU-NAACP also included an award ceremony in this year’s Social Justice Expo, in which the accomplishments of various community leaders were highlighted and appreciated.
“We are honoring mayor Toni Harp, [the Honorable Gruendel Lifetime Achievement Award for Youth and Public Service recipient], our first African American female mayor of New Haven,” said Morrison. “Then we have Lieutenant Samuel Brown, [Community Leader-Service Distinguished Award recipient], and we have a young person names Josiah Artis, which is a New Haven Pop Warner football player. He will be getting the Youth Trailblazer award.”
Harp said she is grateful to the SCSU-NAACP chapter for acknowledging her work in such a way. Upon receiving the Honorable Gruendel Lifetime Achievement Award for Youth and Public Service, she said she is inspired to continue working in advocating for young people as well as for local communities.
Harp also said she was impressed with the panelists who outlined all of their remarkable works in building progress for young people in the New Haven community. Harp added the event also reminded her of her own experience as a youth leader in the NAACP and the influence Southern NAACP leaders have on society.
“It made me remember years ago when I was the president of the youth branch of the NAACP,” said Harp. “These are leadership opportunities that are so important for young people and it gives them an understanding that the things they do can actually impact the world that they live in. So I am really glad to see that they have such an active chapter here.”
Brandon Rothschild, NAACP Youth Works Advisor and former SCSU-NAACP president, said this event was dedicated to supporting the various issues faced by the underrepresented minority community in New Haven, as well as showcasing the positive efforts that various individuals and groups are undergoing to remedy those issues.
“Media does a poor job with actually taking the time to show the positivity that is going on,” said Rothschild, “so this is our way of boosting that and showing the outside world that we are making a positive difference in our community and outside of our community.”
Joyner said the event encompassed problems and anxieties, such as the decline of families, job loss, and the malaise of potential political leaders and seeing young people involved reminded him of similar causes seen throughout his college days in the 1960s, during Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement.
“I am sensing some of the same activism and concern that existed during my time and I think this is a transitional period,” said Joyner. “Look at the factors, you have a businessman running for president, basically saying stuff typically Statesmen and politicians do not say about other groups. I think we are going through a mean period and our survival depends on enough people who are righteous and care about others, standing up and doing something about it.”
Photo Credit: Tyler Korponai – Photo Editor