The Dallas Examiner

The Texas NAACP Youth and College Division swept the NAACP Idea Lab competition, themed “Buying Black,” leading with 10 awards at their 109th annual convention in San Antonio, last month.

During the competition, the youth and young adults from participating chapters were challenged to create a startup business model that would address the consumer needs of their community. The Idea Lab was modeled after the TV series, Shark Tank, and each group was given five minutes to present their business plan.

The awards were presented July 14, when the state division unit attended the 2018 Juanita Craft Mitchell Awards Gala, honoring the future leaders in six NAACP Youth and College Game Changers: civic engagement, education, employment and economic empowerment, environmental and climate justice, health and juvenile justice.

“The overall goal of the gala is to award units and leaders at state conferences for their advocacy work throughout the year,” said Summer Thompson, Youth and College Division state president.

The state chapter’s longstanding success as the best conference in the nation for the eighth time is attributed to their keen eye for structure and perfection within each division.

“With Texas having a long history of winning, one thing we do different than other states we have our divisions send a draft before they send it to nationals because I want to ensure that what the unit is sending is marketable and has substance,” Thompson revealed. “We’re making sure units are in compliance. We’re making sure organizations have order and structure.

Each year, their work doesn’t go unnoticed. Some of the honorees this year were the University of Texas-Arlington for best overall in the nation for juvenile justice advocacy and Baylor University for best college chapter in the nation and their advocacy in employment and economic empowerment. Huston-Tillotson University won best Health advocacy in the nation. University of Houston finished in second place for having the most NAACP memberships in a college chapter.

Aside from the recognized college campuses, former Huston Tillotson Youth Division president Derrick Lewis II won the outstanding youth leadership award for NAACP’s Region 6 for his consistent volunteer efforts in voter’s registration, Hurricane Harvey relief and other activities. Jaedyn Whitley from the Garland Youth Council won second place in the NAACP Idea Lab competition.

“Definitely blessed and honored to receive an award as such,” Lewis expressed. “Sometimes you don’t realize the impact until certain moments, so seeing the award and the following I’ve been getting so far is definitely speaking volumes to the impact that I’ve been making.”

The award ceremony highlighted not only the successes of the NAACP young members but also the significance of youth leadership and millennials’ potential to be the next civil right leaders.

“Everybody has a voice,” Lewis said. “Everybody has an opportunity to join the movement. This generation is going to be the one to change the country around, so I encourage everybody to be engaged, be vocal and let your voice be heard.