published Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

NAACP tries to bridge generation gap; Emancipation Day to be marked in Chattanooga area

Vincent Phipps of ACT-SO discusses strategies to get busy students involved with ACT-SO with teacher Candy Corneliussen at Notre Dame High School in this file photo.
Vincent Phipps of ACT-SO discusses strategies to get busy students involved with ACT-SO with teacher Candy Corneliussen at Notre Dame High School in this file photo.
Photo by Alex Washburn /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

• What: Chattanooga Hamilton County NAACP Jubilee Day celebration.

• When: 11 a.m. Wednesday. Keynote speaker is the Rev. Carlos Williams, pastor of Orchard Knob Missionary Baptist Church.

• Where: Orchard Knob Missionary Baptist Church, 500 N. Highland Park Ave.

The NAACP is working diligently to bridge the gap between people who fought in the civil rights movement and those whose lives involve Twitter, FaceBook and Instagram, said Vincent Phipps, chairman of ACT-SO, the organization's high school outreach program.

"The NAACP recognizes that the only way for the organization to grow is to nurture youth," so knowledge trickles down and does not filter away, he said.

Youths will host, pray and read the Emancipation Proclamation during the NAACP's Jubilee Day celebration at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Orchard Knob Missionary Baptist Church.

Some Jubilee Day participants will come from ACT-SO, or the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics. Organizers say the ACT-SO program is similar to an academic Olympics.

Jubilee Day, celebrated by blacks across the country, commemorates the date President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation -- Jan. 1, 1863. The proclamation led to blacks in America being eventually freed from slavery.

James Mapp, president of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP, said the theme for this year's celebration is remembering the past and strategizing for the future.

The NAACP is centering the celebration on youths. The event is aimed at showcasing black youths who excel in school and in their talents, said Carolyn Tatum, NAACP third vice president.

"Instead of focusing on the bad,our plan is to find ways of highlighting and celebrating young people who are doing the right thing and are more representative of who we are," she said.

Phipps said the number of young people in the organization is increasing, but he wants to see more. Only 10 high school students participated in ACT-SO when he took leadership of the organization in 2007. This year 45 students participated. He hopes to see 100 applicants for the program by the April 2014 deadline.

ACT-SO helps the NAACP by attracting youth to the civil rights organization. And ACT-SO helps youth by giving them opportunity to gain national recognition for showcasing their talent.

Maya Thirkill, a 15-year-old sophomore at Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts who participates in the ACT-SO program, said she will continue to work with the NAACP when she is older.

"I see what it does," she said. "And I want to be a part of a program that uplifts other black youth and the community."

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at or 423-757-6431.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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