The Westside Branch NAACP held its annual Celebration of Membership Tea, Sept. 10 at Bethel New Life Business Center, 1150 N. Lamon. Master of Ceremonies for the afternoon was attorney David Askew.

After an invocation prayer by Rev. Lewis Flowers, president & CEO, Westside Ministers Coalition, NAACP President Vera Davis welcomed everyone and all new members, encouraging them to become involved in committees and to take on leadership roles within the organization.

One of the West Side branch’s biggest focus is letting young people be an active part of the organization. Last year’s youth president, Patrick Easley, took on leadership responsibilities which involved everything from public speaking to sharing his knowledge with other young members. One of this year’s ACT-SO gold medal winners, Mitti Cowan, entertained the audience by singing an operatic solo. She told the audience how much she loved her travels to Washington, D.C. to compete.

“I got a chance to take a picture with renowned gospel singer Richard Smallwood-that was so exciting-and also with TV personality Lisa Ray. The experience I would love to do again, and I look forward to many other endeavors with the NAACP.”

The next young person to perform and address the audience was spoken word artist and motivational speaker Taylor Moore, who at only 16 years old has already built up an impressive resume.

“The NAACP has done great things in my few years of living,” she said, “And as I reflect on the history of where we come from and where we’re going, the NAACP has helped African Americans to move from the boycotts to the board rooms. And even though we’ve moved from the boycotts to the board rooms, we still got a long, long way to go. So even though we’ve come a long way, we still have far to go. And the only way for us to do that is to be active, not only with our voices, but with our wallets. There are many things in the community we shouldn’t overlook-for example, AIDS in the African-American community. I was watching Primetime the other night. African Americans make up 13 percent of the entire population in the United States, but when it comes to the AIDS population we make up 50 percent. As a people, as an organization, we have to hit this subject. I have a remedy. The remedy is so simple. The remedy is abstinence until marriage.”

The celebration tea also recognized all the organization’s community partners and member Donovan Taylor explained, “The purpose and aims of the West Side branch of the NAACP shall be to improve the political, educational, social and economic status of minority groups; to eliminate racial prejudice; to keep the public aware of the adverse effects of racial discrimination; and to take lawful action to secure its elimination, consistent with the efforts of the national organization and in conformity with the articles of incorporation of the association, its constitution and bylaws and as directed by the National Board of Directors.” Donovan stated her reason for joining the NAACP: “the obligation I felt that I had to give back to the community, and also the obligation to my ancestors and the sacrifices they made, things that I have and enjoy today. It’s pretty much to give back to them as well and continue the struggle that endures today. I would encourage individuals to join the NAACP and help remediate racial injustice.”