Mary Katherine Murphy
The Scotland County NAACP will play host to youth from throughout the state this weekend as it holds the first North Carolina NAACP Youth and College Division Youth Works Committee meeting.
Registration for the meeting will start at the Clinton Inn at 9 a.m. on Saturday, where the meeting will begin at 10 a.m. A luncheon will be held at 12:30 to celebrate the Youth of the Year from each NAACP chapter, including Scotland County Youth of the Year DeAngelo Byrd.
“The youth select the youth of the year - he or she is the individual who has shown the greatest leadership skills through working with the youth council and at the same time being someone who tries to be a team member,” said Rena McNeil, Scotland County NAACP youth adviser. “DeAngelo Byrd is probably one of the most dynamic people that I’ve had the opportunity to work with - he’s sincere and concerned about people. If you give him a mission, he’ll try to do it to the best of his ability and then some.” Program topics will cover financial literacy and youth and political activism, with speakers including North Carolina NAACP President the Rev. Dr. William Barber, Get Out to Vote Director Joshua Vincent, and Rep. Garland Pierce.
DeMonte Alford, who has worked with Democracy North Carolina and Organizing for America, will address the youth luncheon. Alford is a Scotland High School graduate and a rising junior at East Carolina University.
“He is involved in so many organizations across the state,” said McNeil. “He is really an up and coming young person from this community.”
The meeting will bring particular focus to financial matters and how to earn an education without incurring disproportionate levels of debt. Victor Galloway of the North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development will present on three topics: building assets and wealth creation, debt and credit, and long-term debt such as the student debt crisis.
“The third piece will be about not getting caught in traps when you get to higher education and leaving your educational institution with more debt than your degree affords you,” Galloway said. Galloway added that the dangers of high student debt levels have particular relevance to minority students who may come from low-income backgrounds.
“It has a greater impact on minorities as far as low-wealth students and the middle class, but the student debt crisis is the fastest-growing crisis since the housing crisis,” said Galloway. “Students are leaving higher learning with more debt than ever in the history of our country.”
The presentation will introduce students to nuances of finance that they may not have been exposed to through their previous education.
“There’s not much in K-12 that speaks to financial literacy,” said Galloway. “Many of our youth today graduate high school without an idea of what credit is or even the basic steps to opening a checking or savings account. However, it’s not just for students - it’s great for their parents and the greater community because, if we’re going to increase the skill competencies of our society, we have to make it affordable to be competitive globally.”
The entirety of Saturday’s meeting is open to the public, with ticket prices $10 for adults and $5 for youth.
“It’s going to be a dynamic leadership conference with economic and voting information that we all should be a part of,” said McNeil. “We all want the best for the youth of this county, state, and country, so we are extending an invitation for all to come out.”