Indiana State University Newsroom

NAACP chapter wins national award

September 8, 2015

The NAACP college chapter at Indiana State University was honored with the Game Changer Achievement Award for Juvenile Justice at the organization's 2015 national convention in Philadelphia this summer.

Indiana State's NAACP is a civil rights advocacy organization that prides itself with being a resource for students who have been discriminated against on campus and educates them about issues that not only concern juvenile justice but also education, health, economic justice and civic engagement.

The Game Changer Award is issued to an NAACP youth and college division that has advocated on issues concerning juvenile justice and educates the community on juvenile-justice-related subjects.

"Young people need to understand that their actions can decide their futures," said Anthonisha Haggard, past president of the campus NAACP chapter. "If they do not know the law or their constitutional rights, our criminal justice system may fail them."

Juvenile justice has become a hot-button topic in the recent years because of an increase in police brutality reports.

"In some cities, there are very high police-to-population ratios," Haggard said. "How can you trust the dozens of officers policing your neighborhood? Young people's lack of education about their rights as citizens can put them in a dangerous situation."

Valerie Hart-Craig, a 2003 graduate from Indiana State and the group's advisor, also won the award for Youth Advisor of the Year for region three at the national convention. This award is issued to adults who exemplify excellent leadership and provides guidance to young people and their civil rights endeavors.

"When did we start being afraid of our own children?" Hart-Craig asked. "The black and brown community has lost community. It is because of this that we have done a disservice to our children because now we don't know the kid next door, and we tend to fear that, which we do not know. Consequently, we are in our own little bubbles in our neighborhoods, and our kids don't have the protections we had from the neighbors."

Hart-Craig, who was the previous president of the Terre Haute branch of NAACP, offers herself as a resource to scholars across campus.

"Ms. Val is the middle ground between old school and new school," said Vanessa Lima, past treasurer of the campus NAACP chapter. "She takes our history and helps us apply it to our current situations in order to enlighten and mobilize students."

The campus NAACP chapter's effort to educate students on issues has resulted in solidarity demonstrations around campus. In the past, the organization has orchestrated a die in protest in honor of Eric Garner, a Silence for Injustice protest for Trayvon Martin, and a Black Lives Matter forum and march around campus.

Members of Indiana State's NAACP say they intend to tackle juvenile-justice-related issues this semester as it relates to the rights and safety of students on campus.

"We are in the midst of planning our annual event called 411 on the Five-O," said Joshua Tidwell, current president of the campus NAACP. "We invite local police officers and attorneys out to inform students of their rights and guide them through how to interact with law enforcement. The event not only educates our students but allows them an opportunity to communicate with officers in a safe environment."

General body meetings of Indiana State's NAACP are at 5 p.m. Thursdays in room 416 of the Hulman Memorial Student Union and are open to the public.


Photo: -- Members of Indiana State University's NAACP chapter pose with the Game Changer Achievement Award for Juvenile Justice they received at the 2015 national convention in Philadelphia this summer.

Contact: Valerie Hart-Craig, assistant director of the Charles E. Brown African American Cultural Center, Indiana State University, 812-237-3811 or or Joshua Tidwell, NAACP President, Indiana State University,

Writer: Jamina Tribbett, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or