NAACP student leader vying for state BOE
North Point’s Smith a finalist for student member of the board
Charles County NAACP Youth Council President Kyle J. Smith, 17, seems destined for great things and is currently using his innovative, progressive and youth-oriented mindset to change his community, one day at a time.
Smith was recently named a finalist for the student member of the Maryland State Board of Education. Now Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) will have to decide between Smith and a Mont- gomery County student who are both vying for the seat.
During his many years of ex- perience in student government and the NAACP, Smith has decided to take the lessons he has learned and pass them on to his peers so that they, too, will have a bright future.
“I work with the adults on NAACP to make sure that the youth have an active role in carrying out the mission of the NAACP,” he said.
“We have a real promising future and there are so many young African Americans who have done so well, especially since we always stand on the shoulders of our ancestors and elders who have paved the way for us. We’ve already gotten to the White House; we can only move forward from here,” Smith said.
The Waldorf resident is a determined student at North Point High School who has served as NAACP Youth Council president
since 2015. He has also served as vice president of the Charles County Association of Student Councils and as the state legislative affairs coordinator for the Maryland Association of Student Councils.
“It’s really exciting [to be a finalist]. I started the process last year with an interview process, and then I was elected by the students,” Smith said.
In his letter to voters, he wrote, “The issues that the next State SMOB will address are so important that it will take all of us, collectively working together in order for there to be significant progress for all students, because when students work together, there is no issue that we cannot solve. During this election we have the power to shape the discussion of the state board of education if we work together for the well being of all of our peers, especially the most marginalized and under- served in our state.”
Recently, Smith has led the NAACP Youth Coun- cil as it visited churches, assisted at bingo events held for senior citizens and hosted youth out- reach in the community while redefining any NAACP stigmas or pre-conceived notions about how the youth can truly benefit from joining the NAACP.
He and the youth coun- cil are also working to im- prove race relations in the country by reaching out to faith-based groups and students. In early 2015, Smith organized a “Black Lives Matter March,” marching from the Charles County Court- house in La Plata to the Charles County Sheriff’s Office. The march included local protestors who advocated for black lives, the right for all Americans of color to feel safe in their communities and “not be racially profiled nor penal- ized in the criminal justice system at such a disproportionate rate.”
“I’m excited about what we have going on this year. We have a lot of work ahead of us this year with the new administration, so we will have to put on our protest shoes and get out there,” Smith said.
Smith works closely with Charles County NAACP Youth Advisor Wanda Wills Woodland, whom he met while he was in the ninth grade. She said she was convinced that Smith would be a gamechanger for the NAACP Youth Council. He said ever since then he has been extremely in- volved and making contributions to the tasks of the organization.
“As he continues he is going to be a leader like no other. My goal is to help him develop his skill and get his agenda out there. We need more youth like Kyle who are on fire and want to work with the community,” Wills Woodland said.
She describes Smith as very articulate, extremely intelligent, driven and a very humble person.
“Some kids, they lose the compassion and are so self-centered, but Kyle is a giving person. He’s just a joy and we’re real- ly blessed to have him in a leadership role in the NAACP Youth Council. He is a brilliant young man and I just can’t wait to see him as a future leader. I’m proud that he allowed me to be a part of whatever he wants to be,” Wills Woodland said.
Smith is passionate about education, so he plans to tackle the achievement gap and the inequity in underserved communities. He also came up with the idea to plan a Unity March in April that will pull teens together to talk about racial tension and the divide often felt within local schools.
“In order to heal, we must move on,” Smith said.
Charles County NAACP Youth Council President Kyle J. Smith, 17, a student at North Point High School, recently became a finalist for student member of the Maryland State Board of Education.