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At this year’s NAACP Leadership 500 Summit, young professionals from across the nation convened in Hollywood, FL to discuss the next steps in empowering a new frontline of civil rights and social justice advocates.

On Friday, the business session of our Summit began with a workshop on Digital Vision Boards led by Lindsey C. Holmes and Nicholas I. Wiggins, who trained participants on using 21st century technology to assist with crafting personal and professional goals. Participants then entered into a lively discussion on social networking – its advantages and challenges- and ultimately how we, as young professionals can use social media to advance individual and collective agendas. In both sessions, the message was clear: Technology is important to movements, whether they are personal, professional, or collective, and we must equip ourselves with the tools to take full advantage of it.

Our conversation then moved to health with Donna Richardson who engaged participants in activities that reminded us of the necessity of being physically health conscious. Terrie Williams enhanced the conversation through a discussion of mental health and its importance.

In our afternoon roundtable discussions, participants learned, reflected and discussed issues of health, education, financial literacy, leadership, energy justice, and economic empowerment. The sessions were not simply standard workshops but truly lively discussions that asked participants to identify what the key issues are for our generation and how we begin to strategically address them.

There is a saying that, “History teaches everything including the future.” On Saturday, participants ate breakfast with Dr. Isabel Wilkerson – Pulitzer-prize winning author of The Warmth of Other Suns- and were able to reflect on our history and the journey of our families. We concluded our business session on Saturday with a town hall meeting where panelists – including Charles Ellison, Rev. Leah Daughtry, Lorraine Miller, and Hilary Shelton- discussed the next steps for young professionals politically as we approach the 2012 presidential elections.

Leadership 500 is unique because it brings together a young, diverse group of people, engages them in leadership development, and reminds us all of a commitment we must have to affirm America’s promise for all citizens.

The future is calling, and with your help, the NAACP will answer.


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