Sunday, June 25, 2017

‘More people need to get involved’

Enterprising People Business Radio Talk presents
A BUSINESS CONVERSATION WITH IMAM MUJAHID RAMADAN

BY KIMBERLY BAILEY-TUREAUD

‘More people need to get involved’

IMAM MUJAHID RAMADAN

Much of the nation’s civil rights establishment was in Las Vegas on July 19-23, as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) held its 105th National Convention at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Resort. Themed “All In for Justice and Equality,” this year’s convention focused on securing African-American turnout for the 2014 midterm elections, pushing back against voter suppression efforts and perseverance in the ongoing struggles for criminal justice reform, voting rights, economic opportunity and education equality.

With speakers that included Vice President Joe Biden, the convention arrived in Las Vegas as the nation marked a series of important civil rights anniversaries and milestones: the 50th Anniversary of both the Civil Rights Act and Freedom Summer, and the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. It also occurred against the backdrop of the Supreme Court decision on affirmative action in the Schutte Case, as well as the devastating decision in Shelby v. Holder, which invalidated Section IV of the Voting Rights Act.
Although the convention was considered a success by many, some local NAACP leaders and others in Las Vegas’ black community expressed disappointment in certain aspects of its execution. The most pressing claims: allegations of insufficient outreach, resulting in scant local awareness of the convention; a complete lack of participation by Las Vegas youth in the Afro-Academic, Cultural Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACTSO), which awarded up to $5,000 in scholarships; exclusion of the Muslim and Baha’i Faith communities from convention proceedings; and minimum participation from Las Vegas’ blackowned businesses in the convention’s business expo.
A lifetime NAACP member who serves as first vice president of the Las Vegas branch, Imam Mujahid Ramadan is among those actively raising concerns.
He spoke to Black Image about his hopes for remedying a situation that, in his view, resulted in too many missed opportunities.
A lot of locals have indicated that they didn’t know about the National NAACP Convention coming to Las Vegas.
It was our branch’s responsibility, and [there was a] failure to do any proactive
work. We really weren’t involved with bringing the National NAACP Convention to Las Vegas — so we had zero coordination participation.
What are some things that can enhance operations of the local NAACP Branch?
One thing, let’s have what we should have: a more transparent organization, like any non-profit. We can enhance operations by including members’ dialogue on the executive committee, for discussions on expanding the pool of great ideas that benefit the Las Vegas community at large.
How can we get our local Las Vegas youth to participate in the National ACTSO scholarship competitions?
More people need to get involved with our local NAACP branch to have local ACT-SO competitions, in order to qualify our youth to participate in the National ACT-SO competitions that have historically showcased the talents of musician Kanye West, actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, filmmaker JohnSingleton and comedian Anthony Anderson when they were young.
What was discussed at the convention?
The general things that the NAACP National Convention addressed were: health and wellness and voter suppression. The issues of education and criminal justice were also discussed. But, the big point of discussion was on voter suppression at this year’s convention. There are … committees at NAACP branches around the country to address a wide range of issues that affect the quality of life of individuals at local and national levels.
What is your advice to the community as it relates to our local NAACP branch?
I think that the success of the NAACP has always been based on membership participation. I encourage people to get involved, come to our local NAACP meetings and ask to be on committees and to ask questions of interest. We invite the public to attend meetings the first Thursday of the month at your local NAACP branch and the general meetings are held every third Saturday of the month at 12:30 p.m. Together we can make our NAACP local chapter what we aspire it to be. It does take a village.
Editor’s note: NAACP Las Vegas president Frank Hawkins did not respond to requests for an interview.
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