Drew University Hosts NAACP Community Gathering

A recap by Eden Linton C’24

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The Rev. Jamin Powell, Phd

March 2024 – Drew University hosted a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) community event featuring keynote speaker the Rev. Jamin Powell, senior pastor of Community Baptist Church in Somerset, New Jersey.

Amira Mutakabbir C’25 provided the opening remarks, which included an announcement that Drew is in the process of establishing its own NAACP chapter. 

Vanessa Brown, president of the Morris County NAACP branch and third vice president of the State of New Jersey NAACP state conference, shared that the NAACP was formed in 1909 to prevent lynching. “The organization is united in trying to extinguish racism and disparities among people,” she said. “We believe we are all equal, and that is our goal. Through education, health, and financial economic development, the organization provides assistance.” 

There are 44 NAACP branches in New Jersey alone.

Powell reminded the audience of students, faculty, and staff, that “African American history is America’s history.” He shared his journey and experiences as a Black man in America.

Powell, raised in Somerset, began his higher education journey at Howard University. “It was the most African Americans I saw at once,” he recalled.

He transferred to Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia, where he experienced racial profiling. “As I got deeper into the South, I began to experience a new recognition that I was, indeed, Black,” he said.

While still in college, he decided to join the U.S. Marine Corp. to become a chaplain. But there were no chaplains in the Marine Corp. at the time, and he was placed in the artillery unit without his knowledge. “I really began to understand that I was Black,” he said.

Soon after bootcamp, Powell was deployed to Iraq. He was struck by a roadside bomb and decided it was time to pursue seminary school. He overcame more accounts of racism where he resided in Stone Mountain, Georgia, outside of Atlanta.

The key takeaway from Powell’s speech is that college students must accept the responsibility to have important conversations—becoming less embedded in the hurt and/or experiences of the world and create a world future generations want to live in. “Be an active participant in the history you are making,” he said. “Explore, learn, talk, listen! Representation is the path to identification.”

The event closed with a Q&A session, allowing the discussion on representation and the role we play in it, to continue.

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