Historic civil rights group expands to GW

The recently founded GW chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People might be young, but Latoyia Harris, the group’s vice president, said the organization already has begun to make a difference.

“From looking at our first three months, we have definitely united (GW’s) black community,” said Harris, who helped acquire the group’s charter in September.

Less than 10 percent of GW’s students are African Americans, but that did not prevent the GW community from accepting the NAACP as a student organization, Harris said.

“I think it was easy for us in a predominantly white community,” Harris said. “GW was basically saying, `You need this.’ The D.C. branch was happy to grant us a charter.”

Harris said GW’s NAACP hopes to have a luncheon with the Black Business Association, co-sponsor events with the Black Peoples’ Union during Black History Month and join forces with Womyn’s Issues Now.

The group also is working to promote the appointment of more minority representatives to the Student Association, Harris said. The chapter regularly meets with GW’s Council of Black Leaders, an organization that includes leaders from campus organizations that represent black students, she said.

Harris said GW does not reach certain D.C. communities because few African Americans attend GW when compared to the large black population in the city.

“GW is not marketed toward African Americans,” said Harris, noting that a majority of the black students at the University are recruited for athletic programs.

“We plan to work with the admissions department on not only marketing the school toward African Americans, but to also get them here,” Harris said.

Harris spoke not only of reaching a more diverse student audience but also of the need for more minority faculty members at the University.

“We need more African-American teachers, but we need more Latinos and women, too,” Harris said.

She said the NAACP should have universal appeal.

“There seems to be some confusion on what NAACP is,” Harris said. “It is a political organization on civil rights for everyone, not only for African Americans, but for everyone.”

The GW NAACP has held two meetings. Its third meeting is at 8 p.m. Thursday in Marvin Center room 407. The group works without an office, interacting through e-mails and phone calls, but Harris said the group’s passion is evident.

“We are definitely getting things done in this community,” she said.

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