Shawn Nowlin email@example.com
It is often said that “if you give a man a fish, he eats today. If you teach him how to fish, he eats for a lifetime.” Gloria Randolph-King, Advisor of the Youth Council for the Roanoke NAACP Chapter, wholeheartedly agrees with that sentiment.
“We have youth that attend Salem, Roanoke City, Roanoke County and Botetourt schools. We also have a Community Coordination Committee designed to correlate the efforts of youth organizations throughout the valley,” she said. “We try to provide knowledge of issues that affect the youth in our community and find ways to solve them.”
High school sophomore Yolanda Joseph, who has known Randolph-King for years, came up with an idea earlier this year to help people who’ve been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. After much discussion, the Roanoke NAACP Youth Council hosted a “Light Up the Night” vigil in the William Fleming student parking lot on January 16.
Topics broached throughout the event included the recent riot at the U.S. Capitol, ways to bring the community together, the incoming Biden Administration and helping those in need.
Instead of using traditional candles, the ceremony featured headlights at directed times.
The featured speakers, who were all heard through an FM radio channel via a transmitter, were assistant Youth Council advisor Dawn Bryant, branch president Brenda Hale, Roanoke City Councilman Joe Cobb, Community Coordination Committee Chair Christian Bryant, high school student Brianna Wilson, former Roanoke Councilwoman Anita Price and singer Iranyumva Pergie.
To start the event, Joseph greeted everyone in attendance followed by an invocation from A’ron Wilson.
“I am tired of many things that keep occurring in the city. There are people dying, and getting hurt, and people that I know well are being affected by this,” Joseph said. “I went to God and then the idea came to my head, so I put a few thoughts together and took it to the executive committee of the NAACP Youth Council. They liked it, so we came together as a team and began to plan it and turn it into the best event that it could be.”
Among those present was William Fleming High Acting Principal Reyhan Deskins. “Highlighting and celebrating our diverse perspectives is one of the best things we can do to promote change,” he said. “I am just so proud of everyone holding on and staying steadfast during this pandemic. I know this is only temporary and I can’t wait to see everyone mask-less on the other side.”
Dr. Martin Luther King visited Virginia numerous times before he was assassinated in April 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. When high school senior London Paige thinks of the iconic Civil Rights leader, unity and peace are the first things that come to mind.
“He was loving toward everyone around him and I aspire to be a kindhearted peacemaker like him,” she said. “Oftentimes, we can better understand each other through calm conversation. I believe many of the nation’s problems have been caused by a lack of understanding of one another.”