Montclair State University continued the month-long tribute of Black Heritage Month by celebrating the 110th anniversary of the university’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) on Wednesday, Feb. 13 in University Hall’s conference center.
The anniversary was rescheduled to Wednesday due to inclement weather, but this did not discourage the crowd of students, faculty, alumni and guests who reconvened Wednesday night to celebrate the organization’s anniversary.
Montclair State’s NAACP collegiate chapter kicked off their anniversary celebration with opening visuals, dance sketches, poetry performances and award presentations by Complexions Dance Team honoring Brotherly Love nominees, along with musical selections by the Voices of Unity Gospel Choir.
The university chapter is part of the Montclair Township branch and welcomed a crowded room filled with students, professors and the public who mixed and mingled as they dined.
The night, filled with laughs, fellowship and encouraging messages throughout the event, set the tone for an evening to inspire and motivate the community to social action.
The resonating theme of the night, “unity,” gathered the crowded room of students to honor the legacy of civil rights activists while also preparing for the future.
The chapter’s president, Mechi Antoine Brown, delivered a powerful visual presentation championing the efforts of past generations while acknowledging his branch’s plans.
Brown talked to the crowd of students about the importance of unity and securing the legacy.
“Today’s celebration is not just honoring the acts of civil rights activists, it is about securing the legacy for the future,” Brown said. “As agents for change, this organization is pushing to educate and encourage people of all colors to take part in civic engagement.”
Brown continued to talk about how they must represent the past generations.
“We are standing on the shoulders of those who came before us,” Brown said. “It is our responsibility to reach back and raise awareness.”
The campus organization, which values itself on securing the political, educational, social and economic equality rights of all students of color, urged students to value their education and to give back to the university through their support for campus organizations representing people of color.
James E. Harris, retired associate dean of students of Montclair State and first vice president of the Montclair NAACP as well as the president of the New Jersey State NAACP, spoke to the room of students, alumni and guests about the importance of leadership.
“The NAACP has a responsibility to educate and prepare young people for the future,” Harris said. “In order to have a seat at the table, we need leaders who are willing to help focus on the issues that go unheard, and education does not stop in the classroom. It continues beyond.”
Since its inception, the Montclair State chapter of the NAACP has played a key role in eradicating the legal barriers of the past and has fought for equality in education, employment and voting.
Junior psychology major Ivory Twitty, who was present at the event, expressed her gratitude for the organization.
“The NAACP is needed now more than ever,” Twitty said. “With such high tensions and unrest in our country, it is very calming to know there is an organization on campus that strives to improve the lives of all people, no matter [their] race or creed.”