A row of adults and teens standing in antioch city council chambers

East County NAACP Youth Council to Host Talent Show Fundraiser

A row of adults and teens standing in antioch city council chambers

East County NAACP Youth Council members, Antioch Mayor Lamar Hernandez-Thorpe, center in suit, and members of the Antioch City Council after Hernandez-Thorpe signed a proclamation April 23 encouraging youth to vote. (Kimberly Payton via Bay City News)

By Aly Brown
Bay City News

A youth chapter of the NAACP in the East Bay is calling on teens to participate in a talent show for a chance to win a scholarship.

Set for June 8 at Palabra De Dios Community Church, a church at 501 Auto Center Drive in Antioch, the talent show will feature performers ages 16 to 19. To purchase tickets or sign up for the event, visit https://bit.ly/NAACPtalentshow.

The first-, second- and third-place winners will all receive funds to be used for educational purposes. Event organizers Gavin Payton and Malcom Miller say the award amounts will depend upon the turnout, but they’re hopeful their efforts will yield a crowd.

“We have people ready to attend, but we need more performers,” said Miller, 17. “We’ve been spreading the word to all the schools, we’ve attended school board meetings, and we’re just trying to get the word around about the event.”

All talent show entrants will gain free membership into the East County NAACP Youth Council, the eastern Contra Costa County youth chapter of the NAACP, a national civil rights activism organization that was started in 1909. The East County chapter first launched in 2018, but Payton, 21, said it was just picking up steam when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, and the members are now rebuilding that momentum.

As the East County NAACP Youth Council president, Payton said members are given the tools, connections and opportunities to create positive change for their communities.

“We advocate and we agitate. We get youth registered to vote, and we are focused on getting youth into leadership positions,” Payton said. “We want to make sure that our youth are successful in whatever they do outside of high school and college.”

Payton said the East County NAACP Youth Council advocates to improve rights for LGBTQ individuals and those experiencing homelessness, as well as to increase access to health and mental health care and improved educational settings, especially for people of color in East County — a portion of Contra Costa that’s rife with its own unique challenges.

The group is especially interested in lowering the voting age for school board elections, as has been done recently in other local municipalities, so that youth have a voice when it comes to who’s representing them, Payton said.

The group appeared last month at the Antioch City Council when Mayor Lamar Hernandez-Thorpe signed an April 23 proclamation encouraging youth to vote.

“Let’s lower the voting age, so that we can have our youth voices heard,” Payton said.

Miller knows the area is ripe with talent — including dancers, singers and lyricists — and he hopes to see more youth get involved with both the talent show and the advocacy work of the East County NAACP Youth Council.

“We want the youth to know that this will leave a crater of inspiration in this community,” Miller said. “We want them to dive deeper into their own ability to create change around them … I know in this area, there are only so many outlets for the young talent in our community to let out what they love. And we’re changing that around. We’re changing the scenery.”

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