Rest assured, our future is in good hands
Casey Thomas | 10/24/2013, 5:59 p.m.
The Dallas Examiner
I had the privilege of presenting a workshop at the Texas NAACP State Conference of Branches this past weekend. The conference was held at the DoubleTree Inn Hotel in Richardson. I was invited by the Texas State Youth Director, Mrs. Ericka Cain.
Cain, like myself, is a graduate of the University of North Texas, and we both attended during the 1990s. She has done a tremendous job as youth director, and has been rewarded by being chosen as the National Youth Advisor of the Year on several occasions.
As you know, for the past few weeks I have been writing about Texas’s new restrictive voter ID law. Since the law will directly affect our young adults and our college students, this was the topic of my presentation.
As I arrived I was able to sit in on the session on mental health. Each participant was charged with getting into groups and developing a campaign that they could take back to their campus that would raise awareness of mental health in the African American community. One of the best kept secrets is that many young Black males have serious mental illnesses but they often go without professional counseling. We can tell that something is not right, but we don’t get it checked out.
Each of the groups gave presentations that varied from action plans of what can be done on college campuses to raise awareness to actual public service announcements that could be recorded and played over local radio or Internet radio stations. I was very impressed with the level of innovation and creativity that was used.
I was up next. I immediately had them raise their hand if they considered themselves to be a leader. I wanted them to know from the beginning that if they were not willing to take a stand, they could not wait for anyone else to. When we finished our introductions, many of the students were shocked to know how many restrictions have been placed on their right to vote. They were excited to have the opportunity to go back to their campus and share with their schoolmates what they had learned. Several volunteered to train others on the voter ID law and others offered to call those who are registered to vote but do not have proper ID.
Oftentimes we see stories on television or on the Internet about how many Black youth are in jail or prison or how many are committing Black-on-Black violence. It’s easy to think that this reflects a majority of our youth today. After having an opportunity to spend the afternoon with the next generation of leaders, I came away knowing that not only is our future in good hands, but many are preparing themselves to take charge now.