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NAACP president visits WVU-P

PARKERSBURG – Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), will speak at the National Institutes for Historically-Underserved Students Think Tank 2019 at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 8 at West Virginia University at Parkersburg. He will serve as the plenary speaker and as an official delegate of the Think Tank. The event is free and open to the public.

“The NAACP is one of the largest, oldest and most respected civil rights organizations in the world. It embodies the best intentions and bravest outcomes of promoting equity for all people,” said WVU Parkersburg President Dr. Chris Gilmer, founder of the Institutes. “The NAACP is an exemplary model for us all in celebrating diversity. We are educating not only the citizenry and the workforce of West Virginia, but preparing students for a global economy in which they will engage diverse partners every day.”

The Think Tank 2019 theme, “Rise Up,” includes two full days of activities on Nov. 8-9. The delegates of the National Institutes will represent 15 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to NAACP President Johnson, other distinguished guests are expected to include Lillias White, Tony and Emmy winner; Aaron Abeyta, National Book Award winner; Dr. Lionel Bordeaux, President of Sinte Gleska University; Dr. Stacee Reicherzer, transgendered author and motivational speaker; Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker, Chancellor of the West Virginia Community and Technical College System; Dr. Carmen Walters, President of Tougaloo College; Dr. Patrick Saxon, President-Elect of the National Organization for Student Success; Dr. Lonie Haynes, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, Highmark Health; and others.

Johnson has served as president and CEO of the NAACP since October 2017. As a longstanding member and leader of the NAACP, Mr. Johnson is leading the Association through a period of re-envisioning and reinvigoration. Since a young age, President Johnson, a veteran activist and a dedicated leader, committed his career to defend the rights and improve the lives of historically underserved communities. As State President of the NAACP Mississippi State Conference, he led critical campaigns for voting rights and equitable education.

“Education is a pivotal stepping stone for so many people, specifically in the African-American community,” President Johnson said. “Historically, we’ve been denied access, adequate learning outcomes, and educational recognition. I look forward to addressing and discussing the surplus of issues facing historically-underserved students at this crucial convening.”

The mission of the National Institutes states, “Education is the great equalizer, not just for individuals, but for families, communities and nations. It must not be simply a privilege of those to whom access comes easily. It must not be tailored only to serve the needs of those prepared to excel. It must be a right of every person willing to work hard for it.”

The annual Think Tank allows educators and student ambassadors from many backgrounds to gather and discuss issues facing historically-underserved students. Work sessions will include development of a tool for colleges to assess their readiness to serve underserved students with a nationwide pilot planned for spring 2020. Panel discussions will also include local and national pre K-12 school leaders and current students.

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