Archive for Saturday, May 25, 2013

Lawrence pastor seeks to reconnect youth to NAACP

Rev. Delmar White, pastor of the Ninth Street Missionary Baptist Church in Lawrence, was recently elected the new president of the Topeka chapter of the NAACP.

Rev. Delmar White, pastor of the Ninth Street Missionary Baptist Church in Lawrence, was recently elected the new president of the Topeka chapter of the NAACP.

May 25, 2013


At the height of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, the Topeka chapter of the NAACP was a powerful force in the struggle for racial justice.

The chapter spearheaded the original Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education lawsuit at the trial court level. That case was eventually appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was merged with other NAACP-sponsored lawsuits from around the country, resulting in the landmark 1954 decision that struck down racial segregation in public schools.

But for most young people growing up today, that struggle, and the organization behind it, are concepts that may be known only from history books and documentary films. Although the Topeka chapter still is active in civil rights issues in northeast Kansas, most of its members are at or nearing retirement age, and few young people feel a need to get involved.

That's something Rev. Delmar White, pastor of the Ninth Street Missionary Baptist Church in Lawrence and newly-elected president of the NAACP Topeka chapter, hopes to change.

"We're the beneficiaries of those (earlier) struggles," White said during a recent interview. "But because there isn't a visible struggle, many of this generation don't really see why they want to be a part of that.

"I think because there's a lack of a real visible struggle — like the civil rights struggle and Brown vs. Board of Education — that was something lived every day," he said. "Plus there are other avenues of interest that capture young adults' attention."

Engaging today's youth

According to several members of the organization, White is apparently the first Lawrence resident elected president of the Topeka chapter.

White, 49, is a native of Lawrence and a graduate of Lawrence High School. He earned his bachelor's degree in divinity at Western Baptist Bible College, and teaches at the college's Topeka campus in addition to leading the Lawrence congregation. He also is pursuing a master's degree in divinity from Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee.

He was elected president of the Topeka NAACP chapter in April, succeeding Rev. Ben Scott of Topeka.

Scott said he, too, found it hard to get young people involved in the NAACP.

"That hasn't been an easy challenge because a lot of the issues we're dealing with today, these kinds of issues are not too interesting to our young people," Scott said. "I'm not saying they're not important, but they don't seem to be of interest to the extent that they want to get involved with them."

Equal education still not achieved

Although Brown vs. Board of Education gave African-Americans the right to attend the same schools as white children, Rev. White said the struggle for equality in education continues.

Today, however, the issue is about achievement, and specifically the gaps in academic achievement between black and white students.

While many people argue that the federal No Child Left Behind law forced significant progress in narrowing those achievement gaps in terms of standardized test scores, White said the law has been "a miserable failure" in addressing the broader equity issues.

"I think the concept was a valid one, but I think the implementation failed," White said. "And so here we are now, even in the Lawrence district, with gaps in dropout rates and graduation rates with African-Americans. Statewide, those numbers are dismal as well."

According to Kansas State Department of Education data, for the class of 2012, the statewide four-year graduation rate was 84.9 percent. But among black male students it was only 71.2 percent, and for black female students it was 80.9 percent.

The Lawrence school district showed similar gaps, according to state data.

White said the NAACP has several initiatives at both the national and local level aimed at closing those gaps.

One is called ACT-SO, which stands for "Afro-Academic Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics," an achievement program designed to stimulate high academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students.

But White said he wants the NAACP to do more — working with other groups to form mentoring programs, as well as lobbying the state and local school boards and the Kansas legislature.

"Because the consequences of not doing anything is a high crime rate when kids with no high school diploma," he said. "It's just cyclical. One thing leads to another."

Education news
Have a story idea?
Contact Journal-World education reporter Elliot Hughes:


Brock Masters 4 years, 12 months ago

I have little respect for race based organizations. Civil rights is admirable, but basing it on one race is racially discriminatory which is not constructive.

Deb Engstrom 4 years, 12 months ago

Is it just race-based organizations, or do you not respect those based on gender, sexual preference, religious belief, etc. If so, you are indeed a racist. "Civil rights is admirable"... seriously???

Deb Engstrom 4 years, 11 months ago

If he does respect those other groups but not race-based ones, then he/she is indeed a racist.

Brock Masters 4 years, 11 months ago

Do you understand the definition of racist? Based on your comment I don't think you do.

We should strive for equality of only one race - the human race. To promote one race, one gender or one orientation over another is discriminatory and wrong. Discrimination against a person because they are Asian is equally wrong as discriminating against a person who is black The same thing applies to gender discrimination.

I support equality among the races, the sexes, the genders and sexual orientation However, when you want to advance one group based on race, gender or sexual orientation then you are communication that skin color, gender or sexual orientation does indeed make a person different. It does not. We, the people of all colors, genders and sexual orientations should be defined only by the content of our character and not skin color, gender or sexual orientation.

I focused on skin color because that is what this article is about - promoting an organization who once served a purpose, but now is counter productive because it strives to advance people of a certain skin color.

Lets advance all people and work to defeat discrimination of any kind.

tomatogrower 4 years, 11 months ago

And yet, white people can join the NAACP.

Jim Johnson 4 years, 12 months ago

If this organization really cared about the schooling of children they would have took a stand against Obama doing away with the voucher program which the inner-city kids and their parents used very successfully but are denied that today. It was one of the best programs the government ever created to get good kids an education when they and their parents wanted one. Parents fought hard to keep it but had NO help from this or any other organizations like it. What a shameful bunch, they won't do anything to help keep something when it really works and this one did..

This is just one example of how a once good organization got corrupted by politics, their leaders are in it for the money not for what's good for a community. maybe that's why it is so hard getting young people into it, at least I hope so.

Pete Kennamore 4 years, 11 months ago

Wow that seems familiar. Perhaps you should attribute the source as this is a quote from MLK's "I have a Dream" speech.

50YearResident 4 years, 11 months ago

This works great if the content of your character is good enough to be accepted by all. When it doesn't work is when the content of your character is not acceptable and then all races tend to place the non-acceptance back on their race being discriminated against. So the morel of this is to always keep the content of your character in the acceptable range and all will be good.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 11 months ago

Be that as it may, when you directly quote someone, the quote is to be placed in quotation marks and attributed.

The NAACP works for issues such as "Ban the Box" which prohibits employers from asking if the applicant has a criminal record. They work to abolish the death penalty.

Anyone can join.

bad_dog 4 years, 11 months ago

You really want to eliminate inquiries into criminal records? FYI, you can't hold certain jobs with a criminal record. Beyond that, do you really want a sexual offender to get a job at the local daycare because the employer is precluded from asking? IMHO, an employer should be able to make such inquiries and then make a determination whether the applicant is both suitable and rehabilitated.

"If you can't do the time, don't do the crime."

Anthony Vincenzo Baretta

Terry Snell Sr. 4 years, 11 months ago

Are you kidding me keep employers from asking if you are a criminal, That's the naacp let criminals work at daycares, schools, around children because the naacp does not want anyone knowing what they did in there past give me a break.

Mike Ford 4 years, 11 months ago

it's always tragically funny to hear a conservative person asking for a point where the need for race based initiatives is non existent to not admit that their attitudes and views and treatment of their fellow people in current times and historically is at the root of the problem. if one wants a culture where there is no need for the American Indian Movement, La Raza, Mungano, or the NAACP realize that adverse societial treatment both in legal nature and behavioral nature of minorities in fairly recent times was so discriminatory that these groups were necessary. I'm fixing to be 43 years of age and Russell Means, Cesar Chavez, and Reverend Ralph Abernathy's actions to further civil rights causes for African, Latino, and Indigenous peoples occurred in the first decade of my life and many of these moves of progress were stunted by the reactionary actions of US Supreme Court cases like Bakke V California in 1978. Bakke was about White people wanting their inherent advantage back which is at times is still the case. Playing dumb to recent history is no excuse. I read an internet news bit yesterday about how overblown the "Crack baby" epidemic was in the 1980's. Back when the GOP began attacking the poor of all creeds with the "Welfare Cadillac" and "Crack baby" slurs came about as a part of the whisper campaign of the Reagan era that I was a teenager in. At times the illegal and anchor baby nonsense doesn't sound any different than the conservative moral majority attacks on the poor in the 1980's. The more time passes the more some people stay the same with no concept of recent history willfully omitting parts of that history that makes conservatives culpable for dumbing down the population to the point where many people know little of the civil rights struggles that occurred in the 1960's and 1970's. That's the issue at hand here.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.