Andrew Trzaska | May 1, 2012
A group of nearly 50 Muskegon County residents attended an informational session for a newly reinvigorated NAACP youth council Monday night, including including 10 teenagers and just as many younger than that.
This new push for a youth council comes from Muskegon Heights city councilwoman Patrice Johnson, who will act as adviser to the group.
Johnson was quick to downplay her decision-making role in the group. In fact, Johnson stated even the current “6 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month” meeting schedule is up for changes depending on what the youth council’s member’s decide.
Monday’s meeting played out very much like a motivational rally, with the parents and community leaders in attendance sharing with the youth words of encouragement and calls to action.
In attendance included state representative Marcia Hovey-Wright, NAACP president Melvin Lars, multiple pastors and city council members, and former youth council organizer and county commissioner Bill Gill.
Former county commissioner Charles Nash explained the wide reach of governmental influence, expressing the need for new youth members to pay attention to politics.
“Does your phone have anything to do with voting?” asked Nash, explaining the taxes and charges, both corporate and federal, that may go unnoticed to consumers.
“You have powers in numbers, you have a voice.”
Nash went on to explain the youth council’s relationship to the main NAACP organization in Muskegon County, of which he is a member:
“We want this to be a two-way street. We want you to be involved and lead, and we want you to just learn a little from us.
Pastor Rodney L. Savage of Great Lakes Kingdom Ministry gave a keynote, describing the youth of Muskegon County as agents of change:
“Your generation has the power to engage yourself and change whatever you desire,” said Savage. “Revolutionaries change the world to what they want to live in.”
Savage also spoke against the dangers stopping revolutionaries and agents of change from succeeding: Excuses, attitudes of entitlement and compromise. He presented an acronym for the youth to strive for: VIP, or Vision, Initiative, and Purpose.
“There’s an entire world out there you need to experience,” said Savage. “You need to travel… you need to see the Great Wall in person. Without a vision, you will perish.”
“You have to live on purpose. You need to wake up on purpose. You need to go to sleep on purpose. Educate yourself on purpose. You need to love on purpose. You need to fight on purpose.”
The 45-minute meeting led seven youth sign up for the council, with indications that others who were at extracurricular activities Monday night might increase the council’s ranks.
According to Johnson, current members of the Muskegon County NAACP donated dues for the youth who joined Monday.