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Kayla Cooper always wanted to be a part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. However, when she saw that the chapter wasn’t active in FIU, she decided to do something about it.
“I went to [the Council for Student Organizations] myself and asked them if it was possible to bring it back or what the plans were, and it took about a semester to bring it together,” said Cooper.
Cooper, a senior and marketing major, is now the president of the reinstated FIU NAACP. Its mission: to promote political, economic, political, educational and social equality and eliminate race-based discrimination, according to their website.
Despite what its name suggests, the NAACP ensures the civil rights of all people, according to Cooper.
“The thing is, a lot of people would hear the name NAACP and automatically assume that it’s just for African American people but the mission itself is to dedicate time and literally be champions for change for all people and eliminate a race-based society,” said Cooper.
While the NAACP was present at FIU in previous years, the organization became inactive in the 2017-2018 school year, something that Cooper took notice of in Spring 2018.
The FIU NAACP reopened its doors in October 2018, reviving something that was sorely lacking in the University, according to Cooper.
“I felt like the campus was needing something. We attend an international university and there’s so many different cultures here. This is a predominantly Hispanic campus and with the amount of minorities that attend this school, I feel like the NAACP can be an advocate for all students as far as equality goes,” said Cooper.
The ongoing political and social issues in America also motivated Cooper to become a part of an organization that could create change and inspire tolerance in her community.
“I am an African American woman in America, and just seeing everything that’s going on in the news, like everything that’s going on now, it’s like I can no longer afford to sit back and be silent anymore, and it’s just prompted me really to become involved and be more politically aware,” said Cooper.
The organization kicked off the Spring 2019 semester with a week full of through community service and educational and social events, including an ice cream game night, a general body meeting and a clean-up of the Historic Hampton House in Brownsville.
Jasmine Jackson, a junior majoring in health management, said that she was interested in joining the organization to surround herself with like-minded people.
“I wanted to meet just people like me, not necessarily black people, but people of color with drive, with similar goals and similar mindsets as me,” said Jackson.
On Feb. 1, NAACP partnered with the National Organization of Black Accountants and the National Council for Negro Women for their Family Reunion BBQ. The event was called a family reunion, according to Cooper, to band these organizations together and welcoming back the NAACP to FIU.
“Collaborating with black organizations or just organizations in general, I feel like it’s a good asset to show community, especially during Black History Month,” said Jasmine Johnson, president of the NCNW and a senior majoring in liberal arts.
Through its events, the officers and members of the NAACP hope to inform students about the organization’s history and become a vehicle for activism within FIU.
“There’s a lot of things that people don’t really want to talk about when it comes to activism or dealing with minorities, so I want to help people be comfortable with talking about those things because I am,” said Brianna Golding, treasurer for the FIU NAACP and a junior majoring in finance and management.
Although educating students about the organization’s mission is difficult at times according to Cooper, the NAACP at FIU continues to grow. She hopes this year’s membership will include students of all nationalities and fall in line with the University’s demographics.
“As far as this being an international school, I want the membership to reflect that. I want the membership to be comprised of multiple ethnicities, multiple people, different kinds of people, and I want everybody to be able to use their strengths accordingly and use it to their maximum potential,” said Cooper.
In the future, the FIU NAACP chapter wants to obtain national recognition, along with meeting the mission of equality and activism they are all passionate about.
“It’s just taking everyone in and having us all work together for one common goal,” said Golding.
For more information on the FIU NAACP, visit their Panther Connect page fiu.campuslabs.com/engage/organization/fiunaacp or their Instagram @FIUNAACP.
Featured photo courtesy of Kayla Cooper.