ACT-SO Still Will Happen!

COVID-19 has affected our lives in profound ways. Thanks to swift action from the County of San Diego and State of California, we are not going to experience as much tragedy as some places that are being hit very hard.

Still, it’s set ACT-SO back. We were supposed to have had our competition last Saturday, and we still don’t know when it will happen. Furthermore, it’s set our in-person mentoring sessions back.

On the good news front, our wonderful partners at SD-YAMA are giving lessons remotely, and we’re doing email and video conferences with our other students.

Our National organization is currently working out competition rules and systems that will allow us to hold a virtual ACT-SO competition, perhaps spread over several days.

We don’t have new dates for you yet, but those will come. Please be assured that while the safety of our competitors is our top priority, we are determined to give them the full ACT-SO experience, in spite of COVID-19.

To that end, should our students earn Gold, we will be taking them to the ACT-SO National competition this summer. Here’s a short video from last year’s Gold winner, Jor’Denay Collier:

ACT-SO National 2019 Jor’Denay Collier Mini-Vlog

Here are a few highlights from the NAACP San Diego Branch’s ACT-SO Nation Poetry Performace competitor, Jor’Denay Collier

We want more students to experience ACT-SO National; both Gold winners and student observers. In order for that to happen, we need your help!

Can you make a donation to help our kids get to National? We estimate the average cost per student for a season of ACT-SO is $1500; we don’t expect many of you will be able to give us that much, but our kids will appreciate any help you can give!

March 20th Newsletter

  • Guidance for Obeying the Stay-at-Home Order
  • US Census
  • April General Membership Meeting Canceled
  • COVID-19 Information
  • Suitcases for Foster Kids
  • ACT-SO Showcase Postponed
  • Branch Election Deadline (since moved to May 1st)
  • First Vice President Bonner
  • Second Vice President Anderson
  • Volunteer with the Food Bank April 3rd
  • Equity Implications of COVID-19

April 4th General Membership Meeting Canceled and Other News

Committees page.

2020 ACT-SO Showcase – Postponed to May

Due to ongoing concerns over protecting the most vulnerable San Diegans, our National organization is permitting us to postpone our ACT-SO Showcase until a date TBD in May. We thank you for your patience and understanding.

Join us to celebrate the Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific talents of African-American high school students sometime in May!

The exact schedule of events is not yet finalized, but the various competitions will begin at 1pm and finish by 5pm. A detailed schedule will be available soon, so you can decide which competition(s) you want to see.

Save the date to support African-American high school students and their academic prowess!

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February 20th, 2020 Executive Committee Meeting

The Executive Committee met at 6pm, February 20th, in Room 347 of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, 404 Euclid Ave.

Executive Committee meetings are public meetings, and anyone may attend. Only Executive Committee members may participate, however.

You may view the interactive meeting packet online.

Or, if you prefer to download the entire packet, you may. Please note that the packet has been updated with financial items that were not made available in advance.

Photos: ACT-SO at UNCF

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) San Diego hosted a gala where four deserving students received scholarships to further their education at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Though our ACT-SO students were not eligible for the scholarships, we were able to send Eryn Bell as a VIP attendee thanks to the generosity of Ms. Senior California USA 2019, Mari Lewis!

Eryn’s Experience

Eryn is very thankful she was able to attend the UNCF Gala. She had the opportunity to meet District 4 Councilmember Monica Montgomery, received writing advice from Starla Lewis, and speak with other students who are just as driven to succeed as she is. This experience has offered her the chance to practice her elevator speech and learn more about how programs like UNCF and ACT-SO are funded. She was moved by the bonds exhibited from HBCU alumni and their families so much that she’s considering attending one herself.


Mari Lewis, the current Ms. Senior California USA 2019 is a 50-year veteran of the performing arts. In her teens, she performed in several theater and musical theater companies. In her 20s, she was principal soloist in 2 regional ballet companies and a showgirl with Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Circus where she learned the time-honored skills of trapeze and contortion. From then through her 40s, she performed and toured the United States and Japan with her own trapeze act (“Aerial Exotica”) and contortion act (“The Serpentine Feline”) in the 1st All-Black American Circus (“UniverSoul Circus”). Mari Lewis currently shares her skills and experience as a performance coach, choreographer, and lifestyle speaker and inspiration. ACT-SO is grateful to have such a talented person support our talented students. Thank you Mari!


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2020 Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr Parade Instructions

This year your Branch will once again march in celebration of the birth of Reverend Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. Please come out and join your Branch in honoring one of the great leaders in the history of the struggle for civil rights, not to mention one of the great leaders in American and World history.

Not a Branch member? March with us anyway — all are welcome! You may join right at the parade, but even if you’re not ready to join, we want you with us.

We are asking folks to wear either their purple NAACP San Diego Branch t-shirts or their black and gold ACT-SO t-shirts. If you don’t have a shirt, come as you are! You can buy a shirt at the parade, or march in whatever feels best to you.

Here are the final details:

Let us know you’re coming: RSVP via Eventbrite

Want to help us decorate our ride? Arrive by 10:00am to 1600 Harbor Drive; text 619-567-9149 for precise information on where the decorating is happening.

Arrive by 1pm to march in the parade; meet at the fountain. NAACP members will be at the Guardian of Water round fountain on the Bay side of the County Administration Building, 1600 Harbor Drive, and will guide you to where we will march.

If you can’t find us, ask Parade officials for NAACP San Diego Branch, Division 1, Position 21. We’re between San Diego Pride and Bethel Baptist Church, if that helps.

Consider using transit! Parking around the parade is difficult. Consider taking the trolley or coaster; get off either at the Santa Fe Station or the County Center Station.

We’re looking forward to seeing YOU there!

Culture, Education, Hairstyles and the Diocese of San Diego

Jan 17, 2020

A 16-year-old young man was suspended a week ago from Mater Dei High School because of his hairstyle.  While that suspension has been rescinded, it never should have been allowed to happen at all. Diocese spokesman Kevin Eckery said that “the matter has been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction;” we are here to tell Mr Eckery that the matter most certainly has not been resolved to our satisfaction.

The Diocese of San Diego is a private institution and thus Mater Dei High School is allowed to make its own rules within certain limits.  Religious organizations are furthermore given latitude by our government on issues of faith and conscience. This latitude is not extend to illegal discrimination, nor is hairstyle a matter touched on by the Catholic faith.

Hairstyle may seem like a small matter at first glance to the lily-white and all-male leadership of the Diocese of San Diego.  What they may not recognize is the cultural importance of hairstyle. While Catholicism is mum on the issue, sects of Islam, Judaism and even Christanity regulate hairstyle.  Furthermore, African-Americans, sadly remaining suffering as we do from so much discrimination, use our hairstyles as a way to remain in touch with our long cultural heritage.

We therefore believe that the Mater Dei High School’s action consists of illegal discrimination based on race, and is not a protected exercise of their religion.  We might have expected the Diocese of San Diego, whose all-male leaders wear dresses, to have a little more flexibility and understanding toward long-standing cultural norms.  We also might have expected the Diocese of San Diego, given certain practices in their own culture that have come to light in recent years, to keep its distance from the heads and bodies of young men in its care.  

We demand the Diocese of San Diego to do better, and we stand ready to assist any efforts they make to train themselves and their employees in the African-American experience, explicit/implicit bias, and cultural sensitivity.  We are celebrating a century of standing sentry over the civil rights of San Diego residents, and we are well-equipped to help rectify this matter.

Francine Maxwell, First Vice President and Acting President
NAACP San Diego Branch