Local and state NAACP members rallied to recruit students from the steps of South Building on Tuesday.
Nearly 100 students and activists attended the event, which featured speeches from leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
N.C. NAACP leaders said they chose South Building for its significance in UNC’s battle for desegregation. On Friday, UNC’s first three black undergraduate students returned for the 55th anniversary of their admission.
The UNC chapter of the NAACP rallied to encourage students to become politically engaged and aware of the opportunities for public service on a local and national level.
“Students often forget what is going on outside the campus,” said Brittany Edens, UNC’s NAACP chapter president. “Our goal is to make the campus more socially aware and to serve as an outlet for concerns.”
She said it was the first time the chapter held a rally at the beginning of the year to spark student interest.
Speakers, including N.C. NAACP President Rev. William Barber, highlighted local issues and emphasized the need for students and the community to stand together for one common purpose.
Barber addressed the recent UNC housekeeper break policy review, saying that University students should stand behind the housekeepers.
“Don’t dismiss the people who do the menial work,” he said. “It’s meaningful work.”
Erin Byrd, director of the political action committee for the N.C. NAACP, addressed the Wake County School Board’s decision to move toward neighborhood schooling, and encouraged people to organize, fight and vote against such issues.
“We believe that when our school is strong, our community is strong,” Byrd said.
The rally encouraged students to join the NAACP, register to vote and attend the One Nation March in Washington, D.C. said Michelle Cotton Laws, president of the organization’s Chapel Hill-Carrboro branch.
The One Nation March will seek to push national leaders to preserve public education, provide jobs, strengthen and stabilize the economy and build unity.
Edens said the UNC chapter of the NAACP and other campus organizations will attend the march to unite students on a national level.
Duke University professor Dr. Timothy Tyson, who serves on the executive board of the N.C. NAACP, encouraged non-black students to join the organization.
“The NAACP is not a black organization,” he said. “It is an interracial organization fighting for equality for all.”
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