Youth Town Hall Energizes Future Activists

Apr 3, 2018

Jamaea Oliver, vice president of the Memphis NAACP Youth Council.
Credit WKNO-FM

As MLK 50 events continued Tuesday, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees hosted a town hall for youth.

The event was held at the Greater White Stone Missionary Baptist Church, attracting around 200 students and panelists who came together to support the next generation of activists in honor of King's legacy.


Among the volunteers was the vice president of the Memphis NAACP Youth Council, Jamaea Oliver. Oliver said she believes spaces for youth are important because it is their job to carry on King’s legacy.

“I think when he died he passed the baton on to younger people, and as those people get older they pass the baton down to us,” she said. “And, what more to do with it than run?”

Among attendees were a group of five students from Los Angeles who won the “I am 2018” film contest. Bryant Hyun, the winner and director of the project, used the one-minute film to bridge the 1968 sanitation strikes to modern day social justice movements. In the film, he replaced sanitation strike slogan “I Am a Man” with a more inclusive slogan, “I Am a Human.”

Bryant Hyun, the winner and director of the "I am 2018" film project.
Credit WKNO-FM

“That’s what activism is,” Bryant said. “It’s doing something you’re passionate about and using your talents, your gifts, and your abilities to create a message other people with similar eyes will see it and relate to or change perspectives.”

While the event focused on youth participation, adults voiced their own support for youth activism. Actor and comedian Chris Tucker emphasized that the future generations must recognize the impact history has had on them and to take matters into their own hands.

“Never stop learning. Never stop connecting history; connecting the sacrifices generations did before us. You’ll always be richer as a person if you learn your history, so don’t let them take away what generations before us gave us.”

The event continued with a panel held by CNN’s Angela Rye. The group discussed being economically woke, supporting black-owned organizations, and creating structures to support black entrepreneurs.