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NAACP Youth Council comes back

August 19, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Rahmaan Wilcox wants to improve race relations in Jefferson County and serve as a community activist.

He also is practicing to be a quarterback on his Charles Town Junior High football squad.

The 13-year-old Ranson youth was elected president in July of the newly reformed Jefferson County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Youth Council.

Wilcox believes the Jefferson County NAACP Youth Council helped keep him out of trouble this summer.

Instead of hanging out with nothing to do, the youth council provided him with adult advisors, who took him on tours, organized dances for the youngsters and are helping to teach him about leadership, he said.

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"When you're into it, you're helping a lot of people out and it's helping me out too," Wilcox said.

"We want to show the community there are good teenagers. We want to show the positive things about our youth," said advisor Teresa Rutherford.

Rutherford said that years ago there was another youth council, but that it faded out several years ago.

At last week's West Virginia convention of the NAACP held in Martinsburg, W.Va., Wilcox read a poem at the podium in front of more than 200 people.

The youngster had to overcome his natural shyness to get in front of the audience. When he finished his reading, the audience enthusiastically applauded.

Advisor Deborah Stewart said the local NAACP chapter had decided earlier this year that more needed to be done for young people.

The local chapter had a couple of parties for the youngsters and then invited them to form a youth council.

About 40 kids have joined the Jefferson County NAACP Youth Council and Rutherford said the group is still actively recruiting.

She said the group would like to have children from all races involved.

"It's not a `colored thing,' it's a people thing," Rutherford said.

The youth council has assisted the adult chapter by serving as ushers at the African American festival and at the annual banquet.

Youth Council Vice President Warren Stewart, 14, said the youth council will be looking for ways to help senior citizens and the community.

He said the youth council plans to meet with the local town councils to offer their services for volunteer projects.

"They have a lot to offer and we want to give them guidance by teaching them to become good citizens. This is a good group of kids," Deborah Stewart said.

The advisors said they plan to take the youngsters to different government meetings to show how the local organizations are run.

They also plan to get speakers for their twice-a-month meetings held at the Mason Building on South Lawrence Street.

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