When Rebecca Myers sees young African Americans embracing the Black Lives Matter Movement, she’s pleased. She’s glad they’re showing an interest in social and civil rights issues of today. It’s something the 19-year-old has done for the better part of her life, except she’s deeply involved with “the baddest and the boldest, the most feared and revered, Civil Rights Organization in America” – the NAACP.

Myer’s connection with the NAACP runs deep. Her grandparents, Leneer and Rebecca Barber, are NAACP lifetime members, and they persuaded the family to get involved. While both of the Barbers were active in the NAACP, it was Mr. Barber who got his young granddaughter involved. In 2005 he bought 7-year-old Rebecca a lifetime membership.

Summer trips were to NAACP conventions and regular family activities were built around supporting activities, programs and efforts of the Kansas City Kansas Branch NAACP. So it wasn’t surprising during the organization’s 2017 national convention, when Myers decided to run for an open youth position on the national NAACP board.

“I’ve been to eleven [conventions], so I’m pretty comfortable with the NAACP on the national level,” she said. “I kind of know how everything goes.

“Our previous board member aged-out—at 25 you age-out as a youth board member—so I was highly encouraged to run, and I got elected.”

Myers, a KCK native, and graduate of the Barstow School in KCMO, is a sophomore at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas majoring in Hospitality Management. She chose UNLV because, “they have the #1 hospitality-management school in the world!”

As a youth board member, Myers’ term lasts two years. She can run for reelection but she can’t remain on the board as youth member after she turns 25. The NAACP has seven regions, and each region is represented by one youth board member. Myers represents Region Four and, she handles youth affairs for ten states: Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming.

The national board of directors, which has 60 members, sets policies that govern the NAACP. Each board member serves on a committee. Myers, along with six other youth, serve on the national youth committee, which recommends youth programs and policies to the national board of directors. Each committee meets separately, and after discussing issues related to their committee, they, as Myers said, “come together and have a committee-as-a-whole meeting and discuss everything. Then we talk about individual branches and units across the country.”

The national board meets quarterly: in Baltimore or Washington DC in October, New York in February, different cities in May, and at the annual convention in July. The organization pays board members’ expenses related to attending these meetings, including their flights and hotel rooms.

Myers recently returned from her first board event and admits, “I was intimidated going into it, but coming back I felt great about it. While I was there they (older members of the board) were all supportive, they were helpful, and they want us to be there because ultimately, we are the next generation. So we have to make sure we set the way for Black youth just like us to fight the fight.”

Myers, doesn’t see the NAACP and BLM as rivals because both are struggling against racial injustice. She appreciates the work BLM is doing. She adds, though, that the NAACP has always been and continues to be in the fight against police brutality and racial profiling, in addition to its efforts to reform the criminal justice system and end unjust community-policing practices.

The 108-year-old organization made news last month when it named Derrick Johnson its president and CEO. The Detroit native and Mississippi resident had served as vice chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors, and he becomes NAACP’s 19th president. Myers is happy with their new leader.

“I know that everyone who has worked closely with him speaks very highly of him and has lots of respect for him, and I know that a lot of the older board members … were saying … we’ve never had a president like him in … twenty years. He actually cares a lot about the organization and really wants to make a change. I love the fact that he’s president!”

Myers takes her role seriously, and she’d like to see more young people get involved in the fight against social injustice. “It’s very important now [more] than ever to get involved in the NAACP because we need to show as young black kids and people of color that we truly have a voice, and the NAACP … lets us express it.”

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