The Eureka National Association for the Advancement of Colored People voted on a new president last December. Dr. Kintay Johnson, director of Student Equity and the Multicultural Center at College of the Redwoods, was seated as president in January 2023.
Johnson was first moved to start working for the community outside of his work after the death of David Josiah Lawson in 2017.
“A lot of our students on campus were hurting and a lot of students in our community are hurting and looking for ways to be heard and seen,” said Johnson. “A safe space where they could talk about the racism that they have experienced here.”
At the Multicultural Center at CR, Johnson works to create that safe space for students to feel seen and heard. The center is where different clubs on campus meet, such as the Latinx club, Black Student Union, Queer Student Union, Rise club and the Native American club. It also has a food pantry available for students through the Basic Needs Center on campus and it will also be opening a new expansion in the spring.
“We like to consider it a home away from home on campus for students,” said Johnson. “So all students, regardless of their race, gender identity, sexuality, it don’t matter. That’s the safe space.”
Working with the NAACP and the Multicultural Center at CR, they will also be hosting the first Black History Film Festival in February.
As president, Johnson’s role is to preside over the monthly meetings held and to appoint chairs to the different committees in the organization, as well as serve as an ex-official member on these committees. There are three committees within the NAACP: the Education Committee, which focuses on scholarships offered like the David Josiah Lawson scholarship and also the All Humboldt Black Student Union which supports Black Student Unions in middle schools, highschools, and colleges in Humboldt County. There is also the Financial Committee and the Legal Redress Committee, which responds to incidents reported to the Eureka branch and has volunteers who assess complaints about racial, unemployment, housing and education discrimination in the area.
“We do things as a collective,” said Johnson. “We don’t do anything without the approval of the body.”
Johnson also attended events that the NAACP held before he became a member, such as the Bowl of Beans Benefit, that was held every year by the organization and Black Humboldt on Martin Luther King Day. The event would raise money for the Arcata Recreation Scholarship Fund and Arcata Elementary School Arts. There hasn’t been a Bowl of Beans event since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’d have a Martin Luther King Day celebration at the Arcata Community Center, where the national anthem would be sung,” said Johnson. “There’d be presentations and things centered around the work and life of Dr. Martin Luther King, but we would also break bread there together and there’d be food plates and beans.”
Johnson officially became a member of the NAACP in 2020 shortly after the death of George Floyd and began attending meetings and more events. He eventually became interested in a leadership position at the NAACP at the suggestion of his colleague.
“After I started attending meetings, one of my colleagues was like, ‘Hey, you know we’re gonna be running for office, you should consider running,” said Johnson.
After the overturn of Roe V. Wade in June of last year, the organization quickly got into contact with Planned Parenthood to see how to retain reproductive rights for individuals.
“I see the spirit of the future of the NAACP at the local level.” said Johnson. “I see more intersectionality between the NAACP and different organizations when our civil liberties or our rights are under attack. I see the NAACP being a voice and being at the table and involved. I hope we can continue to be a bridge that brings together people who are concerned about the political education and social and economic and equality rights of all people. We still have work to do.”