By Warnell Jackson
Hip Hop Forum’s Warnell Jackson presents an outstanding interview with an NAACP representative. He speaks about his dedication to the organization, it’s history, and how there is a need for improvement with the early childhood education system.
Hip-Hop Forum: Congratulations on being elected President of the NAACP Delaware State Conference of Branches. Give our readers a glimpse into your position and what it entails.
Linwood Jackson: Thank you so much. The President position is very in-depth. I am chair of the executive committee of the NAACP in DE. I chair all of the meetings and speak on behalf of the NAACP membership in the state of Delaware. We hold our meetings quarterly. I preside over the 7 branches that we have here in DE. As president, I also work closely with all 23 of our action committees, to aid them in developing programs and fulfilling their duties within the State of Delaware. I also appoint the chairmen of these committees.
HHF: Thank you for that. It’s certainly more than what’s popularly known. It’s good to have insight into such a great organization aside from its historical significance.
Linwood Jackson: The NAACP is a non-partisan volunteer organization. Everyone from the state level down are volunteers. We were founded in 1909 by a diverse and multiracial group of civil rights activists. We’ve been there through the early civil rights struggles, through the 1960s, 1970s, and we continue on today. We’re very focused on keeping the youth alongside us, raising the new generation to carry on and aid in helping people, as we always have been. We also have something that a lot of other organizations don’t have – a youth and college division. We have them right at the table with us. They have their own Presidents, Secretaries, etc, and we work very close with them. Not only teaching, but gaining more perspective from their input. It’s always been our mantra that the youth have the energy, and the elders have the knowledge. When we combine the two, we possess the power to move some of our plaguing community issues off of the table.
HHF: How has your background as a radio & TV host given you preparation for this new endeavor?
Linwood Jackson: Well, I’ll give you the whole story. I started my broadcasting career after retiring from General Motors. I was a Journeyman Millwright/Welder for 25 years with the UAW. I feel like the retirement was almost forced upon me, but they put together a handsome severance package on the table and gave us the opportunity to leave. I took that opportunity and sort of reinvented myself. I was always volunteering in different organizations throughout my life, but I never had the opportunity to get in-depth with my service because of my commitment to work. So upon my retirement, I chose to serve more diligently in the NAACP. I was able to get my “boots on the ground”, if you will. In my local Wilmington branch, I served as Vice-President, and then was fortunate enough to be elected a Secretary of the State Conference for 2 terms.
During that time, I was asked to come on to a radio show to discuss some of the issues that were going on at the time. We ended up recording two segments of the program to get all of the important content discussed. That episode of the show led the producers to ask me to co-host that program. This same instance happened on this person’s television program. After a few years of co-hosting, I was approached about hosting my own radio show. I took that opportunity, and I’ve been doing that weekly ever since.
I want to take this time to give a shout out to this gentleman, Mr. Charles Brittingham. It just so happens that Mr. Brittingham was serving as President of the State Conference when I was elected to the position of Secretary. We always spoke on the shows about the issues of the community, and we always invited leaders of the community and of industry to the show to have positive and constructive dialogue with us. It’s these relationships that we established and continue to use to this day in my tenure at the NAACP. These leaders have been integral in developing plans and solutions for our community problems.
HHF: So in your expert opinion, what are the issues facing the community today?
Linwood Jackson: One of the issues the NAACP is tackling is education. There is a strong need for the public education system to reform. In early childhood and elementary education, the children must be invested in, instead of just passed over and pushed through grades. Every child has their own learning style and skill – those that don’t fit into one teacher’s gamete shouldn’t be labeled as ADHD and given medication for a lifetime. That is irresponsible. Our children shouldn’t be forced to the test – the skills to succeed should be instilled in our children. By 3rd grade, our students that aren’t on the right reading level are on the school to prison pipeline. We must set the bar higher and keep our kids in school. Our education system must get back into the skilled trades. Everyone in American society isn’t set to be a doctor or a rocket scientist. These people should still be able to have a viable place in society away from poverty.
Myself being a product of the trades, I can say that skilled tradesmen make a good living wage. Skilled trades workers are also a great example of entrepreneurs. In this vein, we’re also promoting union membership. Workers rights, and civil rights go hand-in-hand. We’ve also placed this focus on our prison outreach, encouraging those incarcerated to gain skills to become not only employable, but entrepreneurial upon release.
Another issue we are facing is cannabis reform. Here in Delaware, the NAACP was instrumental in getting laws passed allowing medical marijuana. We were also instrumental in the decriminalization of marijuana as a drug, meaning our judges and lawmakers have started to roll back the unfair and unnecessary penalties for those in possession of marijuana unlawfully. The “war on drugs” has been instrumental in vilifying Black people and destroying family structure through incarceration. Legalizing marijuana actually allows us to put money back into our community. In Delaware we’re going for full legalization in 2017 – medical & recreational.
HHF: What can we do to help our communities in these respects?
Linwood Jackson: Excellent question. First, I’d encourage your readers to visit our website at www.naacpdelstate.org, for information on the NAACP Delaware State Conference. There’s information on what we’re doing as far as the issues we face in Delaware, and how you can get involved. I’d also urge you to join your local NAACP branch and get involved in any of the committees and get ready to work! The chains of slavery have been released, but many of those chains remain in our brains. We must get involved and actively change the issues of our society.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you.