Youth activist delivers message of empowerment and awareness

Elijah Coles-Brown speaks at the annual NAACP Jubilee Day Celebration at Loudon Avenue Christian Church on January 1, 2019 — Photos by S. Hale

by S. Rotan Hale

Youth activist and motivational speaker Elijah Coles-Brown delivered a barnstorming message during this year’s NAACP Jubilee Day celebration.

The event was held Tuesday, Jan. 1 before a packed sanctuary at Loudon Ave. Christian Church, pastored by Rev. Anthony L. Holmes who was unable to attend.

“As we march into 2019 lets develop a concept of do more for our youth,” said Brenda Hale, president, local chapter NAACP.

“Consider what the value of 60 minutes (donated) would mean to the youth in our community. We see all the youth that are here today, but think about those that are not here. We need to do outreach, extend our hand of fellowship and ask what we can do for you (youth) to help on your journey,” she stated with urgency.

The program was charged with performances by several particularly moving and inspirational songs. A duet by Kai and Kameron Washington-Brown who expertly harmonized through “I Could Sing of Your Praises All Day Long.” Kai is a Radford NAACP member and sophomore at Radford U. William Fleming HS junior Kameron is VP, NAACP, Youth Council local chapter.

Bernadette Brown performs “Hold on Just a Little While Longer” at the NAACP Jubilee Day Celebration.

Also Bernadette “BJ” Brown, known for her soul-stirring vocals, accompanied by pianist DeRon Lark, performed an amazing rendition of ‘Hold On Just a Little While Longer.’ The tune, a modern-day gospel standard, set the tone through which the entire celebration was lifted.

Nonetheless, guest speaker Elijah Brown boldly approached the podium and delivered his message of empowerment and activism with the eloquence of a classic civil rights leader of the 60’s.

Brown is a ninth grader at J.R. Tucker High School, Henrico, VA (outside of Richmond). In addition to being enrolled in the Center for World Language and Global Citizenship Program, his resume is a list of stunning accomplishments and positions.

He has appeared in some of the most high-profile settings and has done numerous interviews on many major radio and TV stations as CBS, MSNBC, Buzzfeed News, ABC and others.

With plans to pursue a career in engineering Elijah is connected with the National Society of Black Engineers.

Additionally he has also had the opportunity to teach college level courses at Old Dominion and Hampton Universities. .

“Use this day…to recognize what you have done in your life, what we have done as a country and realize that you have to be the ones to bring it forward,” he emphatically stated. “Make sure to encourage your children and your grandchildren to continue with the fight (for justice) because it doesn’t matter what age you are, any generation can stand up and fight for equality.”

Jubilee Day speaker Elijah Coles-Brown holds framed artwork presented during the program.

With a strong close Elijah raised the ideal of ensuring “freedom–not just physically but mentally.”

Providing praise (and a little background) President Hale lifted up Elijah’s mother Brenda Coles for “what she has instilled in her son.”

Coles, who resides in Richmond along with her son, is formerly of Roanoke where she was an active member of the local NAACP and SCLC chapters.

“She is a single parent and we know all the struggles that involves,” Hale said. “You have overcome a lot on a personal level. You have overcome health problems–to name one– but you have remained steadfast in your faith and look where you are right now,” added Hale who led the audience in a standing ovation saluting yet another mother who has launched her child into greatness.

Considering the heights he’s reached and how Elijah Coles-Brown baffled the crowd with his brilliance that is so on point. There is little wonder as to how this high-minded prodigy has reached such a level of notoriety and become such an incredible source of encouragement at the young age of just fourteen.