Be The Movement: A Message to Young Professionals of Color in the Age of President Trump


As we have entered a new year and a new Presidential administration, many Young Professionals of color are left to answer the question: what now? Millennials and Generation Z came of age during an historic time in our nation. The past eight years have been filled with progressive changes that led many to be optimistic about current and future opportunities for all. But, what now?

I would remind folks that we have been here before. We have always been a people who are resilient, and we will survive. Survival in this era will entail applying lessons demonstrated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Whitney M. Young. These leaders achieved great accomplishments because they worked together; they found strength in each other. Dr. King was an inspirational orator, while Whitney Young was a masterful power broker. These and many other diverse talents were used to drive the momentum of the Civil Rights Movement. Each young leader offered valuable skills to help the greater good. And, media were used to amplify their work and humanize the movement. Young professionals now can do the same. We have garnered the attention of the nation through our actions in Ferguson and beyond. Moving forward, all of our talents, skills, gifts and motivation are needed. We must be diligent about knowing and sharing the facts of our Movement. We must continue to be vocal. This is not a time to be silent.

The National Urban League, rooted in social work, has been fighting for more than 100 years to ensure equal jobs, housing, education and health for all. I encourage all Young Professionals to join with the National Urban League Young Professionals (NULYP). When we come together our impact is exponential in our communities and at the ballot box. There is strength in numbers. There is serenity in supporting your brother and sister. This is not a time to turn your back on what is going on in our society. Be vigilant. If you are feeling down right now, we can connect to make our voices heard.

There is opportunity for change in our local communities, every day, every year. We do not have to wait four years for change. We must all vote. We must use our frustration as a rallying cry and vote like we never have before. It is also time for young professionals to become candidates. Travis Townsend, Jr., an Atlanta attorney and current candidate for the newly formed city of South Fulton, GA, is a great example. Travis is the former president of the Atlanta NULYP chapter and former national programs chairperson for NULYP. He is using his professional experience, NULYP connections and passion for civic engagement to Be The Movement in his community.

Our call to action for Join Week 2017 is: Be The Movement. When you come to the table, you help make the Movement. As National Urban League President Marc Morial says, “we are not just a think tank, we are a do tank.” There is plenty of work to do and everyone can contribute. We have people coming to our local affiliates day in and day out because they are in need. It is our charge to help our fellow citizens meet basic needs, so that they too can contribute to the Movement. NULYP must continue to show our impact on local and national levels.

So, what now? Be The Movement, now.

Carlos Clanton is President of the National Urban League Young Professionals

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