Helping young people, reducing incarceration, and better health care are issues The NAACP of Syracuse and Onondaga County calls “Game Changers” for our community. The group has laid out its action agenda for the year. WAER’s Chris Bolt went to the annual report to the community and has more details.
Chief among six game changers highlighted by local NAACP President Linda Brown Robinson is the ability to get and keep and good-paying job. One of the group’s key initiatives for 2019 could help diversify local fire and police agencies … while also helping achieve economic stability for minority communities.
“In order to live that American dream, we have to have access to jobs. In order to provide jobs we will be working with the Syracuse Police Department, Fire Department, New York State Police. It also will include Camp 415, that’s the Central New York Minority Police, FOCUS, that’s firefighters of color united, to conduct classes that will assist minorities how to pass civil service exams. That partnership for us is huge. It will not only benefit the police and fire department and the New York State Police, it will also boost our economy of the city and the county.”
The group also recognizes the ongoing problem of transportation as a barrier to that steady paycheck.
“If we find a job, we can’t get to the job because of cut bus routes. So what happens to that dream? Instead of waiting on the bus line, we may end up on the unemployment line," said Robinson.
She explains one idea that might make a direct impact for people who struggle to get to or from a job.
“Securing grants so that we can maybe run some vans to some of the outlying companies because sometimes people get to work, but they can’t get home. So you get out there and go to work, the bus stops at 10:00 and I get off at 11:00.”
NAACP SIX 'GAME CHANGER' IN COMMUNITY THE PLAN TO ADDRESS IN 2019-20
- Economic Stability
- Health Equality for All
- Public Safety & Equitable Criminal Justice
- Voting Rights & Political Representation.
- Expanding Youth & Young Adult Engagement
Brown Robinson detailed committees of volunteers addressing each one of the areas (details in the full address audio below)
In addition to financial health, wellness and mental health are also priorities. Robinson says the NAACP will be tackling the task of elevating the importance of one critical issue.
“Educating the public on mental health because that’s run rampant not only in this community but every community throughout the United States (and) to diversify the health care system. We will also be partnering with the Onondaga County Health Department on Narcan training in the minority community, because we know they do it. But nobody comes into the minority community to do any Narcan training. We’re going to partner with the county on that.”
The future of youth in the community is of paramount importance. Robinson points out one in ten Syracuse city school kids is considered homeless.
“The district had 2464 homeless students. That’s a crying shame. Most of these homeless children are not homeless in the way most of us would imagine. They don’t live in shelters or on the streets. They are doubled up in homes. So that means the kids live in cobbled together arrangements, shuffling from one bed, one couch, one floor, and waiting until that welcome runs out. We plan to take definite actions in the 2019-2020 term that will positively affect these issues and continue to partner with our community allies.”
NAACP actions in the coming year will also focus on increasing voter participation, reducing incarceration of people of color, and finding ways to remove racially derogatory content from school textbooks and lessons. Robinson closed the annual address by quoting poet Maya Angelou’s call for everyone to be involved in the struggle for equality.
“It is impossible to struggle for civil rights, equal rights for blacks, without including whites,
because equal rights, fair play, justice are all like the air. We all have it or none of us has it. And that is the truth ….”
The NAACP of Onondaga County celebrates its 40th anniversary later this year with a celebration in May.