Millennial Minneapolis NAACP president Leslie Badue wins back the community

Leslie E. Badue is a 25-year-old community advocate and activist. She currently serves as president of the Minneapolis NAACP and the initiative director for Think Different-Do Different Educational Affiliate Network, an initiative of the Network for the Development of Children of African Descent (NdCAD). She previously served as the vice president and education chair for the Minneapolis NAACP.

Growing up in the inner city of Washington, D.C. fueled Badue’s passion for the community and she has dedicated her life to fighting for issues ranging from education to police brutality. As the president of the Black Law Student Association at the University of St. Thomas and a member of the award-winning civil rights clinic the Community Justice Project, Badue stood on the front lines after the unjust killings of Jamar Clark, Philando Castile and Justine Damond.

Badue obtained her bachelor’s in political science and African studies from Barry University in Miami.

Why and how did you become involved with the Minneapolis NAACP?

In 2015, my law professor at the time, Nekima Levy-Pounds, became President of the Minneapolis NAACP. I originally became a member to support her. When I joined the NAACP Jason Sole, my predecessor, was the Criminal Justice Chair and allowed me to serve on his committee.

I had always admired the historical contributions of the NAACP but was never exposed to opportunities to become involved. Before joining the NAACP, I was doing a lot of work on a micro-level. However, Dr. Levy-Pounds helped me to understand the macro-level change that I could accomplish as Education Chair. The NAACP provided me with a platform to work with like-minded people to help activate the community.

What is your vision for the Minneapolis NAACP as the new president?

My vision is for the Minneapolis NAACP is to help activate a community eco-system that ensures Minneapolis becomes a more equitable and inclusive place to live, where all people have authentic opportunities to fair wage jobs, entrepreneurship, healthcare, housing, education, and political participation.

In 1967, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King stated: “I think it is necessary for us to realize we have moved from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights.” While the NAACP is known as America’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, our true fight is for human rights. I ran into Dr. Josie Johnson recently and she reminded me to go back to why and how the NAACP was formed. We know black and white activist formed the NAACP as a response to the ongoing violence against African Americans (Africans in America) around the country.

As the president of the Minneapolis NAACP, I am calling all human rights activist to join us as we continue to fight against the ongoing violence against African Americans around the country. We are fighting to win a just system where we are not criminalized, miseducated, and denied economic opportunities.

In addition, we are calling for lawyers and pastors to take their rightful place with the NAACP. You cannot mention the NAACP without mentioning the lawyers and pastors who served as anchors for activism. We are looking for activators to join our Religious Affairs and Legal Redress Committees.

Finally, I am looking forward to helping to bring structure to the chapter. Many local NAACP chapters, including the Minneapolis NAACP, function with no paid staff. This is unique for a nonprofit. For the Minneapolis NAACP to be effective, we must create a sustainability plan.

Describe your leadership style.

I consider myself a servant leader who delegates and activates. I have always been determined to help activate communities, rather than just occupy spaces. I do not believe we are saving communities, we are investing in them so that they can invest in themselves. I will execute my vision through communication, collaboration, and compassion.

How do you utilize technology to serve your benefactors and to communicate your mission?

While studying social entrepreneurship in Mumbai, India, I learned that knowledge is power but it is not property. Social media is an amazing tool to share information and connect with people across the globe. Last year for President’s Day, I created the “Don’t Complain, Activate” initiative. I believe that you do not have to be Barack or Beyoncé to activate the community. The initiative highlights positive contributions of people in the community. The idea is that everyone can and should activate their community. You can activate the community as a janitor, mother, actor, activist, or teacher. The possibilities are endless. Malcolm X’s wife Betty Shabazz once said: “Find the good and praise it.” I like to use technology to capture positive moments and share them. It is important to advocate against injustice. Also, it is in our best interest to remember there good in the world.

Name four books and authors who inspire you.

The Autobiography of Assata Shakur by Assata Shakur

The Miseducation of the Negro by Carter G Woodson

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Three songs you listen to that motivate you?

“Finish Line” and “Blessings” by Chance the Rapper

“Way Maker” by Jovonta Patton

“Promise” by Courtland Pickens