New NAACP chapter prepares for Black History Month

BY KEVIN SVEC | JANUARY 31, 2014 5:00 AM

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African-American student enrollment was limited on the University of Iowa campus up until the 1960s.

But more than 50 years later, the UI chapter of the NAACP prepares for its first Black History Month on campus.

With February approaching, the organization plans to help spread its cause throughout the community as well as the university.

The NAACP was founded on Feb. 12, 1909 as a way to support civil rights. Today, it serves as a way to bring minorities together and help educate them about equality.

Since the UI chapter is fairly new, the primary goal is to get the word out to other students on campus and create a larger following, which would result in more service to the community. 

During Black History Month, the chapter has activities planned for the third week of February. Some of the activities include a Sunday Dinner, a dance class, and a documentary film night.

Brittney Reed, the president of the UI’s NAACP, grew up in Des Moines, where she served on the youth council, also as president.

“When I first came to [the UI], I was shocked there was no NAACP organization,” Reed said.

Rodnika Carter, treasurer of the UI’s chapter, said UI Student Government partly funds the group.
The organization also is working on creating fundraisers to further benefit its cause.

“There was a lack of support from students in past years,” Carter said. “We have a need for dedicated people to donate their time to our cause.”

The NAACP is working on numerous projects for the coming year. The organization has started working with the Dream Center with to help adults study to earn GEDs and holding after-school programs for minority children.  In this program, members will help the kids with homework and have activities to offer them guidance.

The organization also plans to start a pen-pal program with inner-city kids from Detroit to help mentor them and give them quality advice in their upbringing.

“There were a lot of African-American groups, but not many focused on the community,” Reed said.

The UI is joining its regent counterparts as its NAACP chapter becomes more involved on campus.

Tiara Mays, president of the Iowa State University chapter, has similar motives for the Ames community during Black History Month.

“Our history tends to get forgotten, it is up to us to let the people know that it is important and a big part of our culture,” Mays said.

Michael Hill, a UI professor of African-American literature, advises the group on campus. He said if the group wants to find success, they have to increase their membership.

“At this point, the chief importance is to get people involved in issues in their community,” he said. “The NAACP gears students up to be part of the larger picture, what needs to be diagnosed in the community and the steps involved in accomplishing those issues.”

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