Willie Shaw chairs the Civic Engagement, Political Action, Voters Registration and Social committees of the Evanston/ North Shore Branch of the NAACP.
The JOY: NU's Black Congratulatory Ms. Willie Shaw’s Keynote address.
The Journey of Our Years, or the JOY, is an annual celebration hosted by Multicultural Student Affairs to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of Northwestern's Black graduates.
Northwestern’s Multicultural Student Affairs
The Joy: NU’s Black Congratulatory
*click here for video link go to 34 minute mark
Friday, June 10th at 1:00 PM CDT in Cahn Auditorium on the Evanston Campus.
Good afternoon Wildcats graduates!
I am overjoyed to be here with you to share in this Joy Celebration. Thank you to Derek & Alejandro for the invitation.
Today is an awesome day to be a Wildcat. So Let’s talk about the wildcat for a second. The wildcat can be solitary and peaceful or aggressive and defensive as the need calls for. Wildcats adapt to change, they survive in temperate broadleaf while others survive in warm to arid temps. They are determined, energetic, innovative & resourceful. Ok Wildcat graduates. Put a pin in this & We’ll come back to it.
These past two and a 1/2 years continuing into the present time has been tumultuous, taxing, stressful, agonizing & a host of other synonyms for all of us, BUT I’m here to remind you and present you with lived evidence that this too will pass.
Take a moment to consider past generations:
The Baby Boomer 57-75 (1946-64) generation was dominated by the Vietnam War, Civil Rights Protests, the assassinations of US President John F. Kennedy, Jr., The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr, & the Cuban Missile Crisis. Believe it or not we made it through an oil crisis too BUT we ended on a good note when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. The Civil rights movement brought about changes such as legislation to end segregation, Black voter suppression, discriminatory employment and housing practices. Then there was Sidney Poitier who won the Academy Award for "Best Actor" becoming the first black actor to win that honor.
Innovators created liquid paper, bubble wrap, zip codes, and sharpie pens. We had great fun with (1973 Chubby Checker- and come on baby & let's do the twist.
Now comes Generation X-41-56 (1965-1980) X-carrying is carrying the highest credit card debt, 1974 - President Nixon resigns in the Watergate scandal break-in. It was the height of the Crack-Cocaine epidemic.
But WAIT Innovators are busy! IBM introduces the IBM-PC personal computer, DNA fingerprinting was in full swing. Innovators created the Disposable Camera, the Nintendo Game Boy, and the Walkman radio.Now were are on to
The Millennial Generation-25-40 (1981-1996) This generation experienced the Oklahoma bombing killing more than 160 people in worst ever incident of its kind in US. By early 1982, the United States was experiencing its worst recession since the Great Depression. Nine million people were unemployed in November of that year. Businesses closed, families lost their homes and farmers lost their land. But WAIT! The economy slowly righted itself, again and we had the Smartphones, the digital camera, targeted Internet searches and the World Wide Web itself, We had emojis, even SnapChat and Instagram
Then Generation Z comes along 9-24 (1997-2012) They experience September 11, the War on terror, the space shuttle Columbia tragedy, major hurricanes-crisis, the war in Ukraine, gun violence, riots and protest BUT WAIT! 2008 November - Democratic Senator Barack Obama becomes the first black president of the United States. The Affordable Care Act passes. We had Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, Advances in LGBTQ + Rights, the MeToo Movement, the Chicago Cubs Win the World Series (2016), Simone Biles Becomes the Most Decorated Gymnast in History, COVID Vaccine are development in record time. There is Siri and Alexa, Google Assistant or artificial intelligence. Crispr or gene-editing, SpaceX's Reusable Rocket, Venmo, the smart thermostat, the Self-Driving Car, Consumer LED Light Bulb the Ring Doorbell, Tesla, and Electronic Highways.
Apeel Sciences is working to prolong the life of fresh produce, and therefore fight food waste. There’s 3D-Printing, Tiny Homes & Indoor Farming Technology, don’t forget Ride Shares. Innovators' minds are at work & here comes Oohos. They are small pods made from biodegradable and edible plants (including seaweed), that are filled with sports drink or water.
If you haven’t guessed yet, I am part of the Baby Boomers Generation. So how did we get through these difficult times?
When President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps thousands of Boomers volunteered. It’s a commitment to help others that continues to this day. We stood up for LGBTQ+ rights.
We fought for gender equality, we protested wars, we kickstarted environmental activism, we ended the cold war, and increased life expectancy.
So you might ask, How does the NAACP fit into all of this?'' Well, it’s like this! Embodied in our mission is equity, political rights, and social inclusion by advancing policies and practices that expand human and civil rights. We have been in the struggle since 1909. It was The NAACP that litigated to the Supreme Court Brown v.s Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas
In the post-civil rights era, the NAACP continued rigorous lobbying and litigation, supporting the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, and amendments to the Fair Housing Act and has worked against the confirmation of conservative judges to the Supreme Court. The NAACP has waged legislative battles, gathered and published crucial statistics, organized mass protests, and produced tons of historical documents.
Throughout the 21st century, the NAACP has additionally focused on substance abuse, teen pregnancy, youth violence, the economy , and voter registration campaigns. By 2009, the NAACP had over 2 million members in 2,200 chapters, 600 college and youth chapters and a host of US provinces. These activists entered the 21st century reinvigorated and, in 2000, launched a massive get-out-the-vote campaign. As a result, 1 million more African Americans cast their ballots in the 2000 presidential election than in 1996 & over 2 million in 2008 & 2012.
As an activist in Illinois our branch continues these initiatives. Personally I have registered hundreds of voters, spearheaded municipal election efforts, led the Evanston Census initiative, worked to get African-American history education, Asian education, the Asian Hate bills and the Juneteenth holiday bills passed in Illinois. It is the human’s purpose to take care of the universe. We cannot achieve this without the protection of all human rights. The NAACP has been in the forefront of all these initiatives. We must have time for family and friends. We must be able to take care of our families making a livable wage. We must be able to have affordable medical care. We must be able to live in a protected environment free from impurities and violence.
Let me end where I began! Just like the Wildcat You all differ in style, temperament, skills, desires. Faith you may be direct in your approach, BUT Arshad may be more modest, OMARI you may support BUT YEMI prefers to…delegate. Travis may be the great communicator, But Anita can crunch those numbers, Mathias may have superb musical talent But Taylor is the greatest negotiator, Ayobami maybe a pacesetter But Kamarzyn maybe more into coaching, teaching or apprenticeships.
Wildcats the world is waiting for all of you.I am expecting, assured, and looking forward to each of you living up to the name WILDCATS. You are advocates, creators, and role models, You are self-aware, you focus on developing others, you encourage strategic thinking, & action, you are ethical and civic-minded, you practice effective communication, you are influencers and, of course, scholars.
I’m going to get a tiny bit biblical here: The book of James states that God has chosen the poor of this world who are rich in faith but Faith without works is dead. Being of service to humanity is one of life’s greatest rewards.
Wildcats you are tasked with choosing courage, “although you may be afraid,” as one of our nation's most courageous leaders Mr. John lewis stated, “you must make good trouble, necessary trouble.” It is this trouble that alays fear and gives you the strength to forge ahead and continue to make the world a better place.
Wildcats get involved with whatever your passion may be Environmental and climate justice, the economy, innovation education, health, student debt, broadway, government, or whatever may be on the horizon.
Wildcats the Baby boomers are excited about all that you will accomplish as you forge ahead to greater heights, doing your part to make the world better for all who inhabit it.
I’ll be rooting for you Wildcats!
A Tribute to Hecky Powell, former President of the Evanston/North Shore NAACP
I stand with the Evanston community today, as we mourn the loss of Hecky Powell, businessman, entrepreneur, philanthropist and family man. Hecky’s loss is a big one in our beloved community. Living in a town like ours, we generally know most people a year or two after arriving. It was a pleasure to meet Hecky not longer after I arrived. Having learned he was a former president of the Evanston/North Shore Branch of the NAACP, I quickly reached out and asked for a lunch appointment. We had lunch downtown just after I was elected to fill the role he once occupied. We had a grand time! He spoke of Evanston from several vantage points; as a young man with a desire for success, as an adult with success, and as a champion supporter of young people. While Hecky was known most for his spot on Green Bay and Emerson Roads, it would be egregious to just stop with his barbecue.
“Hecky’s" the establishment, was merely the platform, which created Hecky the multifaceted, bridge building, foundation creating, politically transforming, justice demanding, cosmopolitan human being who lived just west of Lake Michigan. All day long, I have been in conversations with Evanstonians and the discussion, inevitably, is about Hecky. From the Mayor and several alderman, hospital CEO’s, life long NAACP’ers, church members and students, we are all saddened by the news. At the very same time, everyone also has a story. Alderman Rainey said Hecky hired her in the 1970’s. My 16 year old son wrote a family text, “Rest in Peace, Hecky.”
Young and old, black and white, that would please Hecky. He lived and longed for the day when Evanston might gather together its myriad resources and become a community for all people. Hecky lived his life this way. He was as warm and ingratiating with Northwestern students as he was with kids at Nichols, Chute or Haven. He was known for especially reaching out and caring for young people and young men, in Evanston. His heart was big and filled with a warmth and kindness that enveloped everyone. He modeled an Evanston of which we can all be proud. He exemplified a myriad of virtues like hard work, dedication, perseverance, goodwill and compassion. I don’t ever remember Hecky not having a smile on his face...except when engaged in a deep and serious conversation. As soon as the talk was over, the smile returned.
The word has gone out today that Hecky Powell succumbed last night to this dreaded coronavirus that has re-written the landscape of the world. It may be that when his obituary is written and released in the newspapers, that the description will read, “Cause of death, COVID-19.” Well, I have a different perspective. I believe Hecky Powell poured every ounce of himself into life. He lived it fully. He ran up against his own barriers and overcame them. Racism could not stop him. An organ transplant could not stop him. Other realities we will never know anything about, could not stop him. And so COVID-19, for all its terror and contagion, could not stop Hecky Powell. You see, his spirit remains with us. His love for life will always make us smile when we think of him. Passing by Green Bay and Emerson Roads will remind us of him. Seeing young people turn their lives around and become independent and productive young men and women will help us to remember, Hecky came by here. He came by Evanston and stayed awhile. And when he left, he made it a far better place than anyone could have imagined.
Our prayers go out to Mrs. Powell and his family. Just as Hecky lived for Evanston, Evanston is surely with you all.
Evanston/North Shore NAACP