By Ariel McGee
To conclude the two-week-long Martin Luther King Jr. Service Week, Student Leadership and Services (SLS) provided transportation to the monthly meeting for the Portland chapter of The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
The NAACP is a national organization where the principal objective is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority group citizens of the United States and eliminate racial prejudices. The organization was established in 1909 and is comprised of over half a million members.
“The Portland NAACP chapter is the oldest (continuously chartered) NAACP chapter west of the Mississippi,” Director of SLS Harold McNaron said. “The Portland chapter is now standing at 104-years-old.”
The Portland chapter is presided by Jo Ann Hardesty, a Democrat who formerly served in the Oregon House of Representatives.
“Hardesty formally invited students to attend the January NAACP meeting when she spoke at Lewis & Clark during the MLK service day,” SLS Civic Action Coordinator Elise Glaser ’18 said.
“Attending the NAACP meeting was meant to serve both as an event for Martin Luther King Jr. Week and as a new initiative to promote civic action at Lewis & Clark,” Glaser said.
SLS will continue to support this initiative by offering transportation to political events, hosting events such as “Write Your Reps” and inviting guest speakers like Hardesty who are involved in the politics.
Portland’s January NAACP meeting took place at Lloyd Center Mall. Meetings were formerly held at the Portland Red Cross, but Hardesty said that NAACP had grown too large for the Red Cross meeting space. However, Hardesty embraced the need to change meeting spaces.
“The meetings attract more newcomers when the meeting location periodically changed,” Hardesty said. “Meetings will now regularly change location and a calendar with all of the meeting times and locations for the 2018 year will soon be released.”
Last year, the Portland chapter participated in trainings to develop a response to the 2016 general election and organized community marches to bring attention to the racially motivated violence in Charleston.
Goals for 2018 include establishing an NAACP storefront, revamping the Portland branch website and building a relationship with Chief Danielle Outlaw of the Portland Police Bureau.
High school student Tory Givens is heading an initiative to start a certified youth branch of the Portland NAACP representing those from ages fourteen to twenty-four.
“The youth council of the Portland NAACP should be official in the next few weeks,” Givens said.
Resident Advisor Thea Crowley ’20 attended the NAACP meeting.
“I thought it was an impressive representation of working together,” Crowley said. “Many people brought up many different concerns and opinions and largely they were heard out. I am interested in the youth council, and hope I will be able to further participate.”
Students can find out meeting times, membership information, and general updates about the Portland chapter of the NAACP at their website or on their Facebook page.