Young blacks look to NAACP's adult members to supply better role models
The NAACP's young people are gearing up to hold more adults accountable in the struggle against social problems confronting young blacks, says John Davis, the organization's national youth director. ``We just don't have the role models. The `talented tenth' has turned their backs on youths,'' Mr. Davis said as NAACP's annual convention wound down last week.
The ``talented tenth'' was defined by historian and educator W. E. B. Du Bois, as those fortunate blacks, who, having acquired education and mobility in America, were obligated to reach back to help the masses who remained in poverty and ignorance. Dubois, the first black doctoral graduate from Harvard, devoted his life to fighting injustice. He was also the first editor of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's magazine Crisis.
``Much of the responsibilty falls on the successful, those who have benefited from the fruits the NAACP has struggled for,'' Davis said. ``We have to help the parents to realize the value of responsibility to young people. Youth only mirror the images presented to them.''
He said it was unrealistic to expect the NAACP to solve all the problems of blacks. But for many young members, the organization appears to offer the only salvation from failing city school systems and the lure of sex and drugs.
Omaha, Neb., youth officer April Hogan says the organization ``motivates you to stick to your goals and aspirations.''
Kenneth Finley of Long Island, N.Y., says the NAACP helped him get into college. ``The organization is good for persons who are not sure about what they want to do in life. It gives you a light to follow.'' He went on an NAACP ``college tour'' that opened his eyes to the possibilities.
Spencer Bellamy, also from New York, says the organization gave him a link with his past. ``It taught me a lot of stuff I never knew, about myself, about blacks; it's always good to know where you came from.''