MEET AND GREET—New NAACP President Connie Parker, left, stands with one-time NAACP President Tim Stevens, chairman of the Black Political Empowerment Project.
On Feb. 28 as part of a two-day Black History Month celebration, the Pittsburgh Unit of the NAACP hosted a networking mixer at the Savoy Restaurant in the Strip District. The event, which also featured an art auction, is part of the NAACP’s latest effort to increase membership and attract younger members.
“It’s about bridging the gap. All the beautiful artwork here, the young people did that,” said NAACP President Connie Parker. “We intend to change the face of the NAACP, bring the young people in, so then we’re alive again. I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
The auction featured 10 original works of art, done by artists from across the city, many in the age group the NAACP is looking to recruit. The auction’s curator D.S. Kinsel said the event was unique in that exhibits featuring work from all Black artists are rare.
“We feel a disconnect. We want to be more connected. What’s better than creating something to raise money for the NAACP? They have a great history,” Kinsel said. “I think it creates more awareness and more of a relationship and that’s what’s missing right now. You have to have that before you become a member.”
Despite the outpouring of support from young adults at the event, many were hesitant to fill out a membership card on the spot. They said they needed more information about the organization beyond its accomplished and illustrious history.
“I have family who’ve been involved in the NAACP,” said Rashad Jamad, another featured artist. “I don’t really hear much about them anymore, but things might’ve changed.”
The event, organized by K. Chase Patterson, president and CEO of Corporate Diversity Associates, represents a shift in the local organization’s direction. In his welcoming remarks to guests, Patterson was complimentary of Parker, who began her first term as president just this January, and her revolutionary vision for the organization.
“We all know a lot of leaders and they make a lot of promises, but they don’t always keep them. But she has kept her promises to me,” Patterson said.
Proceeds from the art auction went to benefit the NAACP Freedom Fund, which supports the educational aspirations of high school seniors in their pursuit of higher education.
“When I heard it was a fundraiser, I wanted to help out,” said Jordan Taylor, one of the featured artists. “It’s a great way to be more involved in the community.”
However, the event didn’t only inspire young adults to be more involved with the NAACP. A number of others also came out in support of the organization, to learn more about what they stand for today, and possibly become members.
“The history and all the effort and accomplishments they have made inspired us,” said Nancy Mundy, mother of Steelers football player Ryan Mundy who was there with her husband Gregory Mundy. “So we just wanted to get more information.”
The event was also sponsored in part by Panera Bread