Creating a Culture of Excellence and Accountability – GDN Exclusive Part I

by May 13, 2022

Devin Freeman

On Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) campuses, student engagement is just as significant to those institutions as their academic programs and student achievement in all other areas that those institutions make available.

The title of this article reflects the commitment and work ethic that Devin Freeman, a Sophomore at North Carolina Central University (NCCU), has to civic engagement, voter engagement, and raising the quality of life of Black people in surrounding neighborhoods and communities where stark disparities exist.

Freeman, the Political Action Chair of the NAACP Youth and College Division

Freeman formerly attended West Point Military Academy. A Political Science major At NCCU, and was elected Freshman Class President and also elected Sophomore Class President. Freeman is the Political Action Chair of the NAACP Youth and College Division (YCD) and a member of three honor societies; the Honors Council ( Omicron, Delta Kappa, and National Scholars Leadership); he is also a member of the African American Male Initiative (AAMI). In those roles, he maintains that “Black empathy is the ability to understand each other of different backgrounds to help create a standard of excellence and accountability. From Freeman’s perspective, “This is necessary especially in college because the opportunities will arise while attending your institution.” And as it relates to the AAMI, he says, “I help the brothers, so African-American males come together in unity and help empower them and ensure that it energizes them toward their success.”

And there’s more Freeman does. In his own words, for instance, about his internships, “So imagine a student government, but, on the state level, I do this as a Fellow, researching what students face in higher education, particularly Title IX. I focus on best practices that the University of North Carolina (UNC) system can use and resources that students could have and improve on. My second internship is with HBCU Heroes. As a nonprofit, they focus on scholarships and opportunities for African-Americans and other minorities at-large. He says that’s his focus as civic engagement chair of YCD. He will also be serving with Michelle Obama’s team for voter registration and mobilization. He also serves on the board of the College of Arts Humanities, his department advisory board, which focuses on student feelings. He is also a part of the Southern Artists Regional Conference.

The Black Experience

Yet, his concept of Black Empathy is marching on in all of this. He describes it as “The ability to know the effects of history and place them in proper context to better address issues that define the Black Experience as inferior to the status quo expression of democracy. That can only occur where there’s an empathetic vacuum—a lack of feeling for one’s humanity.

” About 10-15 years after the founding of NAACP, the organization was concerned about middle schools, high schools and college students. It set out to create a youth organization within NAACP for outreach to them and for them to understand civil liberties for the advancement of equity for African-Americans and other minorities that the NAACP stands for.”

Freeman continues unveiling a plan, “In North Carolina, YCD hosts a state statewide Zoom meeting every month and host various training and workshops to educate and encourage people to come out and do something about the issues that confront us. Then we mobilize and go out and vote. He further acknowledges the intention behind the YCD of the NAACP and other types of civic engagement.

“On the HBCU level, we do an okay job, but we’re still trying to recruit people. We’re facing an issue that many people aren’t considering. We’re still reacting rather than being proactive.”

We are still reactivating YCD chapters in North Carolina because we only have a couple of chapters here and there and that is not enough.”

Those who work with him have talked about all the schools within the UNC School system. “As well as help empower the ones you can. They are as attuned to attending the state conferences.”

The YCD relationship with GDN and The NBSM offers mutually beneficial opportunities that potentially promote a more significant role for the NAACP to energize students nationwide, both on HBCUs and Primarily White Institutions (PWIs) chapters on all campuses.

Convinced that youth are reachable and that established relationships with the right organizations and individuals will reach and reactivate them, “We will make sure that the state and national leaders recognize these student chapters and attend state meetings. But our focus is right now, one of state management, a stated goal.”

“Next, get out there.”

These approaches are critical with the GDN student outreach initiative and The NBSM to assist the YCD moving forward with the ambition of creating NAACP advancement as our most prolific civil rights tool once again. And that means developing a program for students, their parents, HBCUs, and PWIs endorsing and promoting memberships within all these entities to join the NAACP to manifest successful outcomes in our effort to benefit the YCD and The NBSM mutually.

“At the end of the day, if your YCD is not recognized by the state or the national, basically you are not chartered. And on top of that, you are using NAACP stuff without paying your dues. That’s something we’re trying to fix. We are having talks with national as we speak. We are trying to have these chapters recognized as supporting being unified because when you are not unified, you cannot combat the problems and make the changes we need today. So, the work starts today, not tomorrow. And we also must make sure that we have the best communication, and everyone is united. It’s not just a few.”

Freeman expands on that, saying, “I feel like if more people were more active and more vocal, that would indicate their level of caring and participation. When you don’t see or understand the issues in your face every day, they don’t relate to Brown v. Board of Education. You know, things like that. We have less emphasis than we had during the Civil Rights Movement. Look at the Black Lives Matter movement and just how it happened. But that was just a moment in time rather than something that prolongs what we will do on a day-to-day basis. It’s the same emphasis we had during a BLM protest. We have the same focus on people trying to join the NAACP and want to get people to be diligent and get the work going.

To remain current with relevant local, state, and national news and our Civic Engagement activities, including “The New Black Student Movement” (TNBSM) initiative: sign up for GDN’s free eNews publications at www.greaterdiversity.com, “read” our Greater Diversity News page. In addition, please ask your organizations, friends, and associates to do the above to generate and maintain greater mass participation with The New Black Student Movement.

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