During the weekend, Jack and Jill had its 8th Biennial “On The Hill Legislative Summit” (OTH). Jack and Jill of America is a national nonprofit organization for mothers and their children ages 2 to 19. It is dedicated to nurturing future African American leaders by strengthening children through leadership development, volunteer service, philanthropic giving, and civic duty. September 9th through September 12th, 237 chapters from 36 different states attended “On the Hill Summit” (OTH). Located in Washington, DC, OTH is a summit that emphasizes educational experience fostering leadership, service and civic duty by supporting a career view for students who may be interested in the political field through informative programs, observations, scholarship opportunities, interviews and meeting with congressional leaders.
Each region had the opportunity to speak virtually with their state representatives. 15 teens from different parts of North Carolina represented the Mid Atlantic region. The Mid-Atlantic Region spoke virtually with Deborah Ross, Representative for North Carolina’s second congressional district and Greg Murphy, representative for North Carolina’s Third Congressional District. During this virtual meeting, the students representing the Mid-Atlantic region voiced opinions and concerns about racial inequalities, especially within the justice and policing system. More police training, more money provided to the policing system, and ways policemen can make black youth feel more safe and protected by police, are changes and suggestions made to the representatives during the discussion. The passing of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 was also of great importance within this conversation. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling.
As well as getting the opportunity to speak to state representatives, political, and inspiring speakers for advocacy, such as, Mayor Muriel Bowser, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Rapheal Warnock, Congresswoman Karen Bass, attorney Ben Crump, and activist Tamika Mallory, spoke. A favorite among the speakers was advocate Chonya Johnson, Senior Domestic Policy Advisor. She spoke about ways teens could advocate in their own communities. She informed participants on how to talk to mayors, legislatures, principals, teachers, parents, etc. and bring about the change needed in society. She emphasized that African American youth need to lift each other up, and be each other’s support systems. Hearing from an educated woman in power like Chonya Johnson was an educational, inspiring experience for many of the teens.
Madison Coyners, member of the Mid-Atlantic region and attendee of the “On the Hill Legislative Summit” 2021 says, “At this year’s OTH, I was taught how to advocate and make my voice heard through action. I enjoyed fellowshipping with my Jack and Jill peers from across the nation and being in the nation’s capital Washington, D.C.”
This opportunity provided by Jack and Jill created a chance to make new connections, hear inspirational speakers, and have African American youths voices heard by North Carolina’s representatives. Current Jack and Jill members at Millbrook should attend the next On The Hill Legislative Summit in 2023 and non-members should learn more about these policies and to look into Jack and Jill Inc. For many African American teens, OTH was a one of a kind experience. Link to more information: https://www.jackandjillinc.org/events/2021-on-the-hill-legislative-summit/