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New England News

Berkshire NAACP Chapter To Hold Voter Registration, Membership Rally

A flyer for Saturday's voter registration and membership rally.
NAACP-Berkshire County Branch

This Saturday, the Berkshire County chapter of the NAACP is holding a voter registration and membership rally at The Common in Pittsfield, Massachusetts with Berkshire Pride and other county groups. The event will feature a youth musical protest in honor of Elijah McClain, the African American man who died after an encounter with police in Aurora, Colorado in August 2019. WAMC spoke with Brooke Bridges of the Berkshire County NAACP about what inspired the rally.

BRIDGES: Right after I became the Executive Chair of Health at the NAACP, I started to think about all elements of health. Because, you know, generally when you think about health, you think of physical health, you think of medical health. And I really wanted to bring something different to that. So I started to think about all the aspects of health, emotional health, mental, social- And political health came up because I, myself have not focused on my political health. And I recognize, especially as an adult, how important it is to know about the political landscape where you live, you know? As a child, I didn't recognize that it affected me or had an effect on me. And even as a young adult, I was like, "Yeah, you know, it doesn't- I don't need to talk about it." And so I never did. And after this past election, I was like, "Wow, I think maybe I should start getting involved in politics a little bit." So obviously, we can see how important it is to not only talk about politics in the in the way of, "We're gonna vote for the presidential election," but also to talk about actual policy and learning about what policies you can actually vote on. Because it's not just about the presidential election. Obviously, that's a huge thing, but there are also elections and policies being passed in your immediate community. So the reason why I decided to put on the rallies is for one, I know that the age group between 18 and 39, that age group is like the largest gap of people who just don't vote.

WAMC: There's a lot of conversation about disenfranchisement among young people in this country. And even more so among people of color in this country, who have seen a lot of the conditions of life for them not change over, one could argue, centuries in the country. How do you plan on communicating to those young people and people of color who maybe don't have strong experiences in representation?

Yeah, I think the primary goal I have is to recognize the representation within their own community. So when we look at the larger landscape, a lot of times they're like: "Oh my god, everything is so bad and stressful and how do we change it on a larger scale?" And I know, and think, and believe that it starts at home, it starts on a smaller scale. So really bringing community members together intergenerationally to talk about the challenges that we have, yes, as a whole nation, and globally, but also, what we have here, and what resources we have here. Who our politicians, who our representatives are here, because then as we change things here and we can have visions of what the future can be for the greater landscape and actually have that represented within our community, then that will trickle out. So having them be a part of the NAACP and be sponsored, even if they're 18 years old, and be able to see the changes that people are trying to make that will benefit their lives, and have more representation. And have kids recognize that they can be in, in roles of power, have them join the executive committees, have them giving presentations on various things to younger people. Just have them really be involved in their immediate community so that they can see impact so then they can maybe take larger steps later to be on a bigger scale. Maybe they want to run for Senate, you know? But having it represented here first, because it takes small steps. And I think we forget that when we look at media and we see all the challenges happening all over the world, we forget that we can actually do things here.

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