Lauren is a former Deputy Editor of The Root.
“Being here at the convention as a member of the United States Air Force Academy is relevant, because for me it’s a chance to give back to my community and talk to young adults about the opportunities I got to have. The NAACP convention was really good in bringing a lot of young people together and we were able to reach out to them and provide them with information they need to succeed.” - Kennedy Patterson, 21, Atlanta, Ga.
Captions by Desiree Hunter
“Having a black person elevated to [the presidency] has brought out the evil that was sort of under the surface before [certain people] had to confront the idea that black people are people… and are equal in intelligence and abilities. It’s the children of the people who didn’t want the civil rights movement, who didn’t want integration, who didn’t want equal rights for all that have emerged. They can call it whatever they want and say “We want small government.” That’s not it. They are just freaking out because we have a black president." -Frances Groeneman, 52, Pacoima, Calif.
"Education is the key to everything. We just need to keep our young people aware of things that happened in our country in the past and not try to hide our secrets. Tell them everything about black history, Asian history and the total history of America as a whole. Make them aware of what’s going on now. A lot of young people don’t like watching the news and they choose to be ignorant but that’s not the key.”- Nathan Wells, 22, New Orleans, La.
“[The most important civil rights issue in our country today] would be the lack of funding for quality education — where we see the cutbacks in programs in our schools, for teachers and particularly for vocational programs. Our children, when they graduate, if they're not going to college, they need to be job ready and prepared with some type of skill. Right now those programs are already underfunded and they're being cut." —Debra Brown, 54, Emporia, Va.
"My fiancée is biracial, so I think it's important to have people of color [such as President Barack Obama] visible in politics. It helps bring up issues of racism and it gets a national discussion going on racial tension and racial bias. I think it also brings to light the issue of inequity in network TV and how some programs only feature one voice and don't include multiple points of view." —Ramsey Anderson, 38, Hollywood, Calif.
"It is the oldest civil rights organization, which is a positive thing, but it also can be negative because of the resistance to change that happens in institutions. [NAACP President Ben Jealous] is bringing in new people — younger people, people more relevant to the times — and at the same time is trying to incorporate people who've been in the organization forever, such as myself and others … It really is a warm feeling between the new and the old." —August "Buddy" Hogan, 69, Chatsworth, Calif.
"We still have not resolved those issues that were prevalent during the actual civil rights movement. When institutions of higher learning say they're diverse, the numbers are still too low. Simply because we are represented by a small percentage, that's still not sufficient in comparison to the total student body … People think because of small increases in representation, we've overcome, or because there's a black president, we've overcome — no." —Esther Reed, 40-something, Ontario, Calif.
"[The NAACP is still relevant because it's] a very influential organization and they are the thought leaders in the African-American community. People in our community look to the NAACP to 1) advocate on our behalf and 2) be a trusted voice that educates us on different issues that we might not be getting from mainstream media." —Kike Aluko, 23, Charlotte, N.C.
"We [at the USC Neighborhood Mobile Dental Van Prevention Program] like to be involved in anything that's going to reach out to the community in terms of health care, and unfortunately there's low access to care in a lot of areas. We wanted to come to this convention and partner with the NAACP. The particular program that I co-direct helps underserved populations, and in urban Los Angeles a lot of that is the Latino and African-American populations." —Carlos Sanchez, 35, Los Angeles