CSU Students Elected to Leadership Roles in State NAACP Division

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Two Columbus State University students were recognized by top Georgia NAACP officials Monday for their election to leadership positions in the Youth and College Division of the statewide organization.

Stephen Cooper, a junior political science major, was elected president of the organization for teens and college students during a Jan. 25 meeting in Statesboro. Ashley Lester, a junior accounting major, was elected secretary. Both are from the Atlanta area.

Edward DuBose, a former Georgia NAACP and Columbus NAACP president who’s now on the national NAACP’s board of directors, told media representatives at a campus news conference Monday that the election of Cooper and Lester is particularly significant because Georgia’s the home of the largest Youth and College Division among 37 such divisions of state NAACP groups.

“It’s having the face of young people like Stephen and Ashley representing the NAACP that challenges other young people,” DuBose said. “The power of the organization in Georgia is standing right here.”

As president of the Youth and College Division of the Georgia NAACP, Cooper will oversee the efforts of younger NAACP members in 27 active local units across the state.

“I look at this as an opportunity to carry on the torch of justice,” Cooper said. “I’m very honored and humbled, yet again very excited.”

Cooper, 20, has been active in several CSU student organizations, including the Student Government Association, Orientation Team and an advisory board of CSU’s Office of Diversity Programs and Services. He’s currently president of CSU’s NAACP chapter, in which he’s been active since he was a freshman. He hopes to attend law school to pursue a career in corporate law after graduation. A child of Liberian immigrants, Cooper was born in the Bora-Bora Liberian Refugee Camp near Accra, the capital of Ghana, another west African nation, as his parents prepared to join relatives in the Atlanta area. He’s a graduate of Shiloh High School in Snellville.

Lester, 21, who transferred to CSU in 2012, is currently second vice president of CSU’s NAACP chapter. She’s also a member of CSU’s Genesis gospel choir, the Accounting Club and CSU’s student chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. A criminal justice minor, she hopes to pursue a career in the FBI after graduation. She’s a graduate of Hiram High School in Paulding County.

Other NAACP officers at Monday’s news conference were State Secretary Tonza S. Thomas, State District Coordinator Rev. Richard Jessie, State Veterans Affairs Chair Derrick White and Columbus NAACP President Abraham Wallace. Now with nearly 10,000 members, Georgia has had a state group of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People since 1917.

Founded in 1909, the national NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights group, with a half million adult and youth members throughout the U.S.