On January 18, 2021, representatives of NA For Change participated in the 21st Annual MLK Jr. Unity Breakfast, hosted by LaRoche University and AARP Pennsylvania. An annual community tradition bringing together members of the community together in the spirit of Reverend Dr. King’s legacy of service and civil rights, members of NA For Change were invited to participate on the event’s speaker’s panel, made up of community leaders spearheading conversations about social issues in their respective niches in the community.
The focus of this year’s event rested in the theme, “Social Activism: Past and Present.” At the event, NA For Change discussed the politicization of the phrase “social activism”, noting that community leaders represented at the event are simply looking for their communities to respect the dignity of all individuals, full stop—regardless of who they are.
In addition, NA For Change underscored the impact that previous trailblazers have on the current generation, and the resilience that is inherited from the stories of the past in pursuit of expanding civil rights, speaking truth to power, and ensuring that everyone has the right to an equitable, accessible, and truthful education that creates the critical thinking skills necessary to preserve the vibrancy of our community.
Noting upon the theme of the event and its emphasis upon the contrasts of the past and present, NA For Change underscored the nature of coalition-building today and the reasons behind an influx of young people being called to action in pursuit of equity, inclusion, and against the vile tendencies of racism. The advent of equipment like iPhone cameras has allowed for instances of racism and prejudice to be recorded, and the widespread use of social media has allowed for these videos to be disseminated rapidly. As one of our representatives stated on the panel, “Racism has always existed; the difference is that it is now being seen in real time by millions around the world.” Racism is shocking, especially when seen in a medium as raw as video footage.
Lastly, NA For Change suggested that those wanting to get involved in the fight against racism and prejudice must focus not on overwhelming goal-setting, but on the measurable progress they can achieve within their own spheres of influence. Interpersonal relationships, a personal commitment to hold your loved ones accountable, and the ability to persevere and build a support network to lean on during trialing times are all incredibly important to building a sustainable commitment to holding an antiracist mindset.
We would like to sincerely thank LaRoche University, AARP PA, the MLK Jr. Unity Breakfast Organizing Committee, and all of the organizers and participants of the MLK Jr. Unity Breakfast for inviting us to their event and for allowing NA For Change the chance to speak on the issues that are so crucial to ensuring every student is allowed the chance to learn about the diverse community that lies within and beyond the confines of the NA community and to develop an innate sense of empathy for those that may not share their same life experience.