By Sofiya Ballin
DeVaun Brown, 22, a senior from Pittsburgh, is a media studies and production major and president of Temple University’s Progressive NAACP. As we celebrate Black History Month, we sat down with Brown to talk about his involvement with the organization and how he’ll advance its mission when he enters the media industry.
Why MSP as a major?
I was a business major. I liked my major — I was management and information systems — but I didn’t like the other courses I had to take. I found out that quantitative literacy was not my best field. An advisor told me about MSP and that I might fit there. I could still work with technology, just now with media, which I also like. It was the perfect fit. Emergent media seemed to be the track that really focused on the information and digital age.
How did you get involved with NAACP?
My freshman year I was very social but I wasn’t in many student organizations. I wanted to get more involved. I heard about NAACP and I knew what it was but I didn’t know about the student chapter. My friend was on the executive board and invited me to a meeting, and I enjoyed it. I eventually became member of the year. I ran for the executive board and I was the press and publicity chair.
That ended up coming in handy!
When I look back on it, yeah! I did not know how to do graphic design and it helped with social media, web development skills and marketing in general. That’s where my foundation was.
I soon ended up being appointed second VP of NAACP. After that year, I was still going to be here and the question was who was going to lead the organization? I thought, why don’t I just do it? I just felt I should take that leadership role and grow as a leader myself because you never know when I might need these skills later.
What makes Temple’s chapter different?
We’re the only chapter in the nation with the word “Progressive” in the title. It got approved by national and I think it really touches home for this chapter. We aspire to be progressively active in the community and we want to promote progress not just staying stagnant.
I know a lot of times people see NAACP think, “Oh yeah you did stuff in the past, that was your moment or era. What are you needed for now?” We want people to see that, as a community we need to continue to be actively progressive.
Ida B. Wells, an influential but not well known journalist was one of your founders. Do you feel enough journalists know about her, especially journalists of color?
I’ve never heard a black journalist say her name and when we talk about our founders, people don’t know she was one of them. I don’t think they know what she’s done for journalism and I don’t think they know what she’s done for this country.
A lot of prominent people really get overlooked and undermined; I think Ida B. Wells is one of those figures.
Do you feel there’s enough people of color represented in the media?
There’s a good amount represented in the media, I just don’t think a lot of them are represented for the right reasons. Is there a good amount of black people represented in the media in a positive light other than sports? No. I think that is something we need to continuously push for.
How does the NAACP plan on tackling that issue on Temple’s campus?
We had a “Slack-tivism” program and we discussed people being activists online or on social media but not really in person. You may say something on Twitter and you have people protesting but then when it comes time to write letters and go to those stations, no one wants to leave the couch. It’s hard to convince people to do more than just come to our meetings.
Is there anyone of color in the media that you aspire to be like?
Stephan A. Smith. I first saw him on ESPN; he’s the prominent black figure at that station. I admire the way he carries himself. He’s confident and very passionate. Everything I want to see in myself, if not already, he is. That’s where I want to be. He came to Temple in October, he talked about his mentors and how they influenced him. The way he escalated in his career is inspirational. I want to be 40 years old, doing what I love but also being successful and helping others.
Do you plan on incorporating NAACP’s mission in your future work?
The keyword from the mission is “all” because a lot of people see NAACP as a black organization that is not the case. We fight for everybody. If there’s some kind of inequality going on or some kind of civil issue that arises we’re the ones that step in. Since mostly black individuals want to get involved with the organization, it’s seen as a black organization. Some people on campus will say, “You have a white girl on your e-board?” And I say, “Yeah! She’s allowed to be here.”
I’ve been trying to incorporate that more. We also have an e-board member that’s considered disabled and he’s our juvenile ambassador. He recently had a program called “Being Disabled in America.” He’s very passionate and he loves this organization and I love seeing that.
Wherever I am, I will carry that mentality with me making sure that everyone has everyone has equal rights and fighting discrimination or prejudice. Also, making sure I’m not doing it as well.
I would love to also mentor the youth, a lot of them don’t even know their rights.
Why do feel students should join, regardless of race?
If you want to come to a place where there is no judgment, where you can enact change and fight for equality as well as diversity. If you want to join a group of people that really want to make a positive impact on the world, this is the place for you.
Temple University’s Progressive NAACP has meetings every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Student Center.
For more information:
Facebook: Temple NAACP