ORONO, Maine — The first NAACP chapter at the University of Maine has been formed, it was announced Monday at the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast held at Wells Conference Center on campus.
Its first meeting is expected to be held before the end of the month.
“We hope to hold fun but serious functions and educate students about health, voter empowerment and employment opportunities outside the college realm,” David Patrick, a 24-year-old junior from Orrington, told the more than 300 who attended the breakfast.
One reason the chapter is needed on campus, according to Patrick, is that the number of students of color attending the university has increased from 400 to 600 over the past few years.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People marked its 100th anniversary last year.
There are no other college or university chapters in the state, according to information on the NAACP Web site. The closest campus chapter appears to be at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.
Other chapters in Maine are located in Portland and at the Maine State Prison in Warren, according to the NAACP Web site. Portland also has a youth chapter for high school students.
“I think it’s a good thing to involve the youth,” Robert Talbot of Bangor said of an on-campus chapter after the breakfast.
Talbot, who often brags he’s an eighth-generation African-American Mainer, said he has been a member of the NAACP for more than 40 years. During that time, faculty, staff and students at UMaine often have joined and-or worked closely with the Greater Bangor Area NAACP chapter.
The annual breakfast to honor King on Monday was sponsored by the Bangor chapter and the university.
Patrick, who is majoring in international business relations, said that to obtain a charter from the national organization, the group must recruit 25 members, elect officers, hold regular meetings and follow other guidelines set out by the NAACP.
The national headquarters for the NAACP is in Baltimore.
Members of college or university chapters must be under age 25 and be enrolled at a college or university, according to the Web site.