The youth director for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People just wants some love.
Brandon Neal told students Monday night in the Marvin Center that individuals should stand up for their rights as he asked the audience, “Where is the love?”
“Where was the love when our country watched brothers and sisters in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina?,” said Neal, a 2000 Howard University graduate. “We all came together during this time, the NAACP was very involved, many other groups were very involved, but FEMA was not necessarily involved.”
Citing Katrina as a poor example of the country’s leadership, Neal urged a room of about 25 students to take some type of leadership position. He told students to “continue the legacy” of the late civil rights leader Rosa Parks.
Neal referred to music artist Kanye West as an individual, like Parks, who made a difference when he stood up.
“Kanye West sacrificed ad campaigns when he criticized the president and became the voice of the voiceless and the face of the faceless for Hurricane Katrina victims,” he said, referring to an impromptu speech West gave during a live advertisement for a Katrina fundraising campaign where he said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
“That’s love,” Neal said.
He added that he feels that a lack of communication, a “hush” of important issues within black and white communities, is detrimental to improving social issues.
“You need to take the lessons of the past and apply them to the future,” Neal said, as he pressed the audience to challenge the work of the nation’s leadership.
He added that the leadership of the 21st century needs to be ensured, and the only way to do that is by “hiring qualified teachers, and promoting educational equity and excellence.” He said that these characteristics are slowly depleting, especially in Southern schools, where segregation is reoccurring through redistricting.
Neal concluded his speech, which was hosted by the College Democrats, by suggesting three important things that individuals must realize in order to make a difference and become a leader.
The first, he said, is to create a strategy and prioritize issues, then receive power and pass it on, making sure to be mentored along the way. Finally, he said, “before you go out and love the world, love yourself.”