During a recent New York Urban League Young Professionals Rebirth! 2012 event at Taj II, Arva Rice, president and CEO of the New York Urban League was excited to share that she’s celebrating her third anniversary at the helm of the historic civil rights organization.
“I am privileged to serve as the second female CEO of the New York Urban League in its 92-year history. We are a civil rights organization that works throughout education, employment and advocacy for New Yorkers,” she beams.
Rice recently posed a question in her column on the HuffingtonPost.com, “How does a moment become a movement?” [from After the Protests: From a Moment to a Movement], and laid out a three-prong strategy. Here, she articulates the importance of young people becoming involved “now” in the upcoming presidential election and her take on who is taking up the mantles of our late civil rights heroes. –yvette caslin
What message(s) do you want to get out to young professionals in regards to the 2012 election?
Get involved. Participate. Their voices, involvement and engagement are so important. They’re not the next generation, the future; they are the now. They need to get in it, be a part of it. The older generation, it’s sometimes hard to get them to listen and pay attention, but hang in there and stay in there. They [young people] are so important to that work.
What is Rebirth 2012?
Rebirth! 2012 is the Young Professionals annual celebration of the Harlem Renaissance — looking at different drama, arts and all the ways we are re-birthing ourselves in the movement.
What role do women play in the movement?
When you think of civil rights leaders today, you think of Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton. There aren’t a whole lot of women who come to mind. It’s very interesting to be in the space. When I look around, I am either one of one, or one of two women in the room. I think it’s important for our voices to be represented. I think that women are involved at the table and making decisions, the decisions get better.
It’s often said that there’s no one in this generation to take up the mantle of civil rights icons like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Dorothy I. Height, et al. Do you agree or disagree?
I disagree. I think that we are all inspired by Drs. Height and King everyday … there are some things that Roland Martin may be doing or saying, or the way that Soledad O’Brien is bringing her voice. There are people who individually do their work [like] CEOs at other Urban Leagues and nonprofit organizations. People too often look for one. There is no one voice for African Americans because we are so diverse. I think that we very much are taking up the mantle everyday.