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NAACP convention ready to handle George Zimmerman verdict

10:06 PM, Jul 11, 2013   |    comments
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Thirty miles away from Sanford, thousands are getting ready for the annual National Association for the Advancement of Colored People convention in Orlando. It kicks off in less than 24 hours and right around the time jurors could possibly be deliberating the fate of Zimmerman.

"History is made. It's the first time that Orange County, Orlando Florida is actually hosting the NAACP," said Barbara Newton, who serves as a liaison between the local Orlando chapter and national organization.

It's the 104th annual NAACP convention and this year, it's just 30 miles away from the George Zimmerman trial, a murder trial that has gained world-wide attention.

"We know that whatever the verdict happens to be, we obviously know that there's a larger conversation around democracy and voting rights and justice, when we look at a number of other issues," said Sammie Dow, Director of Youth and College Division for the NAACP.

Dow said several workshops will help the NAACP's youth understand what has been happening in Sanford for the last year.

"We want to make sure that the workshops that we offer young people during this space here in Orlando are relevant. We want to make sure that they are consistently fresh and timely and that we are equipping young people with the tools and skills and giving them an opportunity to interact with national voices," said Dow.

A workshop about gun laws, called "A child was shot yesterday" is in the program. It aims to open healthy discussion about the Zimmerman trial and teach over 400 young people between 8 and 25 years old why it's important to use their voice.

"I just want us to feel like we have a voice and that we are important to society and we can be in charge of changing certain things just as anyone else would be," said Diamond Ray, a 12th grader from Philadelphia attending the convention.

Dow said the mission of having a youth track program at the convention is to empower and educate using a case many from the younger generation can relate to.

"People grew up in a different time. We see a kid walking down the street in a hoodie as normal because we do that all the time but we have to understand we always have to protect ourselves, always be mindful of our presence, and what we are doing," said Jordan Henderson, a 12th grader from Chicago.

The NAACP convention kicks off Friday night with a revival ceremony and officially begins Saturday at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

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