At a conference in Philadelphia, the University of North Texas NAACP chapter took home national awards in the youth and college division for Voter Empowerment, Economic Empowerment and Chapter of the Year.
NAACP President Brittany Burnam, Assistant Treasurer Cambria Jordan and Secretary Tarryn Oliver attended the conference. Burnam, who was re-elected for a second term, said the UNT chapter hadn’t won Chapter of the Year since 2010.
“These awards wouldn’t have been possible without the whole team,” Burnam said. “Our members, our supporters — we’ve had a lot of people who’ve helped us along the way.”
NAACP chapters submitted examples of their work over the past year to empower voters in their respective communities. Burnam said changes to voter registration laws in Texas and the debut of on-campus voting last year gave UNT NAACP two important issues to rally behind.
“We’ve done several voter registration mixers on campus,” Burnam said. “We worked hard to get all my chairs deputized so we could register voters on campus, worked with the National Pan-Hellenic Council and Student Government Association, and then we did a march to the polls when we had the polls on campus. It’s our constitutional right, so we should use it.”
She said confusion over new voter ID laws and the cost of new IDs contribute to voter suppression.
“Even when it got struck down, it stopped over 600,000 people from voting because they didn’t have what they needed,” Burnam said. “African-Americans were three times as likely to be affected by that.”
For the Economic Empowerment Award, UNT NAACP worked with the Irving chapter and held an on-campus financial awareness, job interview and networking event.
“We had free lunch, we gave out money, we had books that talked about credit and everything you need to know about your financial responsibilities,” Burnam said. “When you’re in a movement, you need the youth and you need the wisdom, and when that comes together it’s magical.”
During the conference, the organization voted to create a new chair position to address environmental and climate justice.
Burnam said the organization has just under 40 members now and more people have shown interest in joining since the conference.
“Last year, when I became president, I was the only one left,” she said. “We had to build the organization back up, so to see where we are now has been a blessing to see everybody put in the work. It took patience, it took dedication. It was just awesome.”