Student Newsroom

U of I NAACP receives charter after years of inactivity


Students attend a meeting for the University of Illinois’ NAACP unit at Illinois Street Residence Halls in February. The group was recognized this month as part of the national organization. Photo courtesy of Laila Ismail

The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign chartered its first official NAACP unit March 7. 

Students in the group said they are aiming to create affirming spaces on campus.

Laila Ismail, a junior at the university and president of the NAACP unit, said that meetings would be  a way for her to hear the public’s needs.

“Really, I’m more focused on what the community wants from the NAACP,” Ismail said. “So, that's kind of the focus of our meetings that we’re going to have.

“I want to know what’s affecting everybody else because what’s affecting me is small compared to what everybody feels on campus.”

Ismail said she was inspired to start the unit because of her passion for social justice and activism. She said she has been working for four months to have the group officially recognized by the NAACP to ensure the group’s success.

Ismail said she is working to make the group’s goals well-rounded and is focused on creating a space that is not catered toward a single demographic of people or interests.

Ismail said the group is being designed for anyone who is passionate about creating positive reform.

“I wanted something on campus that dealt with just civil rights and advocacy, and I felt that the NAACP would be a good avenue for that,” Ismail said. 

“It’s also not just for Black civil rights. It's also for environmental justice, employment and juvenile justice. It's basically for everyone everywhere.” 

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NAACP is a civil rights organization that has been advocating for equity since the 1900s, according to the NAACP website.

Since the charter for the campus’ unit was granted by the NAACP, the organizers of the group said they are working to solidify plans for upcoming meetings with students interested in the organization. 

Symone Rogers, a junior at the university and vice president of the unit, expressed interest in helping establish the group’s presence on campus. 

“I wanted to get involved with the NAACP because it’s something we didn't have on campus that I felt we needed in order to advocate and bring awareness to the social and political issues that people of color are facing,” Rogers said. “Especially on a predominantly white institution campus.”

Rogers said her and Ismail were unsure as to how to revive the organization since it had not been active for years. However, they said they did not stop trying to fight for their voices.

“Just dig deeper. Don't be afraid to share ideas,” Rogers said. “Don't be afraid to bring awareness to social and political issues or just issues that you feel are happening where you go to school.”

Both members said they urge anyone interested in advocacy to join and help expand the group’s presence.

The group hosted a recruitment event Feb. 1 to have students learn more about their mission. The event ended with 58 registered members, Ismail said. 

“This is a great organization, and I'm glad we are bringing it back to campus,” Rogers said. “We get to spread awareness and spread our ideas and thoughts where we were not heard before.

“So, now that we have this, I just want everybody to know that it's here.”
More information and updates about upcoming events can be found on the unit’s Instagram page, at naacpuiuc.