How adults can avoid the summer slide

7/28/2022, 6 p.m.
Most people are familiar with the summer slide, a term researchers use to describe what happens when grade-school students lose ...

Most people are familiar with the summer slide, a term researchers use to describe what happens when grade-school students lose significant knowledge in reading and math over the summer break.

Suggestions for combating this decline, which disproportionately impacts children from families of limited means, include encouraging youngsters to read what they want, make time for smart play, get out of the house and use their imagination.

While advice for keeping children engaged and interested in learning during the summer is plentiful, how can adults ensure that they don’t succumb to similar learning gaps?

For thousands of African-American professionals, summer offers the perfect time to practice many of the suggestions dispensed to children. In the past few weeks alone, several predominantly Black organizations have hosted annual conferences and conventions that historically encourage their members to broaden their perspectives, expand their networks and deepen their commitments.

All while reading or listening to what they want as they travel to conference destinations throughout the country.

Remember: Read what you want. Get out of the house.

Once at their conference destinations, the choice of games can be endless and enlightening. For example, instead of trying to recall the name of someone you met during last year’s conference, flip the script by saying to him or her “I’ll bet you don’t remember me!”

Or, for some real fun, engage in a game of one-upman-ship:

“I just came back from a two-week vacation in Greece.” “You know my daughter is in law school at Harvard.” “Did you hear that my wife just became chief of staff at her hospital?”

All games (and kidding) aside, the encouragement to use one’s imagination and act has long been a guiding light for many of the nation’s leading Black organizations such as the NAACP, the National Urban League (NUL), the National Newspaper Association (NNPA), the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and dozens of religious and fraternal groups.

Hopefully, a few takeaways from this year’s annual meetings of the NAACP, the NUL and NNPA will leave you enlightened as these last weeks of summer slide.

NAACP: 113th National Convention, July 14 - 20, Atlantic City, N.J.

Oscar award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o surprised 40 NAACP youth members on stage during this year’s NAACP 113th Convention, awarding each student a $10,000 scholarship.

“Since I was a child, I have always had big dreams, and my education has played a huge part in helping me realize them,” Ms. Nyong’o told NAACP attendees. “I’ve always loved learning and I believe that learners change the world. I am so thrilled to join Lancôme, on behalf of their Write Her Future Scholarship Fund, to award this incredible group of women with these game-changing scholarships.”

NUL: July 20-23, Washington, D.C.

In days leading up to the conference, Marc Morial, NUL’s president and chief executive officer wrote that the conference “provides an opportunity to highlight and redefine the National Urban League’s role in responding not only to the medical and economic crises wrought by the COVID pandemic, but to the rise of extremism and an unprecedented assault on democracy and civil liberties.”

Mr. Morial also expressed alarm at the dwindling number of elections taking place. “More than 70 election deniers are candidates for state offices that run, oversee, or protect elections. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that could open the door for a state legislature to refuse to certify the results of a presidential election and instead select its own slate of electors – much as the plotters of the Jan. 6 insurrection attempted to do.

“It is these extraordinary threats to the foundation of our democracy that we will confront as the National Urban League Conference convenes in Washington,” Mr. Morial promised.

NNPA: June 22-25, New Orleans, Theme: “Amplifying Our Voices for Freedom”

About a month before the NUL’s gathering, NNPA leaders were well into their convention in which the focus was the 2022 midterm elections. Stacy M. Brown, NNPA’s senior national correspondent, reported that more than 55 million Americans remain unregistered to vote – and about 10 million are African-Americans who are eligible to vote but who are unregistered.

“Whether the reason is apathy, suppression, or something else, the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and the Transformative Justice Coalition seek to get to the bottom of why, with so much at stake, voter registration and Get Out The Vote mobilization remain lacking notably among Black Americans across the nation,” Mr. Brown wrote.

During the national convention marking the 195th-anniversary celebration of the Black Press of America in New Orleans, leaders of both organizations announced a get-out- to-vote campaign aimed at registering and mobilizing GOTV for 10 million more African-Americans to vote in time for the 2022 midterms.

Rest assured that in coming weeks, many of these organizations will continue to shine a light not just on voting and voting rights, but also health care, housing, equal rights, police brutality, the economy, and reproductive rights.

All adults, no matter their station in life, should pay attention to these groups that present daily lessons in which we all can learn.