Roslyn Brock, Incoming National Chair of NAACP
The Passing of the NAACP Leadership Torch
Roslyn Brock made history late last month when she became the youngest ever and fourth woman to serve as Chairman of the National Board of Directors of the historic NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Color People).
By Niele Anderson
Sentinel Religion Editor
The NAACP is the most recognized organization in the civil rights establishment, founded in 1909. One of its main missions was to fight the lynchings of blacks. The organization has played an important role in virtually every major civil rights issue of the last century, including the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education desegregation case, the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Over the past twenty-five years, Roslyn Brock has served the NAACP in several leadership roles. She is a Diamond Life Member of the NAACP and joined the Association as a freshman at Virginia Union University.
In 1989, under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Benjamin Lawson Hooks, Brock wrote her Master’s Thesis on “Developing a NAACP Health Outreach Program for Minorities.” Brock is a skilled grant writer and has secured more than $2.7 million dollars in grants since 1991 for NAACP programs that initiated the Health Symposiums held annually at NAACP National Conventions.
In 1999, Brock was appointed Chair of the Board Convention Planning Committee. In this role, she led the Committee to institute fiscal policies that resulted in the Convention becoming a profit center for the Association with average net revenues of $1 million dollars a year.
In 2005, Brock created the Leadership 500 Summit with several other young adult members of the NAACP. The Summit’s goal is to recruit, train and retain a new generation of civil rights leaders aged 30–50 to the NAACP. Since its inception, Leadership 500 has contributed more than $650,000 to the NAACP National Treasury to support 2009 Centennial activities.
This is the time for renewal,” said Julian Bond, 70 who took over the NAACP chairmanship in 1998. “We have dynamic new leadership. Roslyn understands firsthand how important youth are to the success of the N.A.A.C.P.”
Willis Edwards, national board member of the NAACP and one of the creators of the NAACP Image Awards shared the following sentiments, “We are happy that Roslyn Brock is our new chair of the board. We are going into the 21st century with the leadership of two very well qualified young people (referring to Brock and President Benjamin Jealous) to lead the association, and I know they will do great things.”
Brock, who was recently in town for the 41st Annual NAACP Image Awards where she made her debut, as the new Chair beside departing chair, now emeritus chair Julian Bond. The two presented Tyler Perry with the Chairman Award at this year’s ceremony.
While in town she stopped by the Los Angeles Sentinel Headquarters for an Editorial meeting that included Leon Jenkins, President on the LA NAACP Chapter, William Smart, Christ Liberation Ministries, Labor Organizer, Steve Wesson, Local Business Owner, Niele Anderson, Sentinel Religion Editor and Yussuf Simmonds, Sentinel Managing Editor.
During the discussion she referenced generational ties and always stressed the importance of not forgetting the past but also pointing to the importance of moving forward. She credits her predecessors Chair emeritus Julian Bond and Myrlie Evers-Williams as mentors as she states ” to have them pass the baton of leadership from this great organization and move it to the next generation has been a humbling experience. I’ve learned so much from both of them and I will use what I’ve learned from them as we set forth a progressive agenda.”
Brock’s position will handle strategic policy and work with the 63 member NAACP and executives to set policy, programs and activities that will move forth a progressive agenda. While President Benjamin Jealous is the day-to-day operations and the face of the organization. It is important to highlight both are too young to have experienced the segregated United States that previous leaders endured, and both are symbols of the association’s effort to increase youth involvement and regain its stature.
Her top priorities for the organization include healthcare, education, criminal justice, economic empowerment and most importantly as she states, “staying true to our singular focus and that’s securing our Civil Rights Protections under the law for all Americans”. She strongly believes Healthcare and Wholeness is something that we need to bring to our communities stating, “it is a Community Development tool.” Brock has worked in healthcare advocacy for more than 20 years.
Retooling The Front Line
Brock understands that in order to move any agenda forward in today’s world, technology must be apart of the plan.
As she begins to retool, one of the areas she stated the organization would be using more of is “social media”. “We are going to be more strategic by using facebook, twitter and blogging. We want folks to text the NAACP (62227) to get daily updates about what’s happening at the NAACP. We understand that all politics are local and we want to put in the hands of our local presidents the tools that they need to get the message out. We want to be able to standardize our operations and make sure that our frontline has what they need to get our message out.”
She referred to it as market segmentation, “We have to exploit the value proposition. So for our folks who are not readers and who listen to the Baisden and Joyner, we have to have a message for them. For our older membership, newspapers are how they got their message and how they continue to get their message. To this milliuem generation who can’t go anywhere without having a computer in front of them, they are twittering and texting, we want to make sure that we have something for them. That’s how the NAACP will be different under President Jealous and I. This is the evolving of our organization, keeping true to our mission but we are trying to do it in a different way”, she shares.
Brock goes on to say “It’s a new day at the NAACP and we are asking this new generation, the 30 to 50 crowd, to come in. But we will never ever forget the bridges that brought us over. The people who kept the doors of the organization open for 100 years.”
When asked of her thoughts regarding the recent Tavis Smiley/ Rev. Al Sharton Controversy regarding the need for “black agenda” she replied, “clearly we need an urban agenda, but I don’t think we need to look outside of ourselves to develop that agenda. I think there is a wealth of wisdom and talent within our own community to solve our own problems. We need to stop talking about it and be about it. So once you stop talking, what are you going to do? That’s really what the urban agenda needs to be about. We need to call everyone around the table and ask what part are you willing to own and once you take it on what measurably will change because you have done so?”
Brock’s passion for the organization rang clear as she talked about the task in front of her by stating ” this is an awesome responsibility, I carry this, what keeps me ever engaged in the process is that our generation can not let down the forefathers. We cannot under our watch allow this organizations doors to close. It’s easy to say give it to me, give it to me. But when they hand it to you, it’s yours, and you got to own it and take it to the next mile.”
Next year the NAACP National Convention convenes here in Los Angeles.