The NAACP held its 114th national convention in Boston recently with the theme “Thriving Together.” The annual gathering sets the tone and direction for all its members around the country for the coming year.

This year, delegates were reminded of how critical partnerships are in the important work of advocacy, humanity protection and the pursuit of justice. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for example, has been an important partner with the NAACP in employment initiatives, social justice thought leadership, and academic access through scholarships. Through this partnership, which started in 2018, lives have been touched and transformed around the world.

While on the surface, the NAACP and the church may appear to be unlikely allies, in reality, we have inextricable values that bond and sustain us. These values are the love of humanity and the love of Christ. 

The love of humanity compels us through compassion to provide resources and relief to those who are in cycles of generational struggles and suffering. The love of Christ is doing this great work for humanity because it is our calling and our purpose, and it pleases our God. It is this kind of partnership and commitment that can lift the lowliest, hearten the hopeless and transform setbacks into set-ups for success. The NAACP’s partnership with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints exemplifies what it means to thrive together.

During the convention in Boston, we discussed current and critical issues that impact humanity, including injustices, trampled rights, regressive narratives and unfair laws. We were graced with the presence of Vice President Kamala Harris, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, to name a few. We were inspired by their impassioned speeches. There was another panelist and partner who revisited our history and gave us a soul-stirring call to action. The orator, influencer, inspirer, mentor, historian and advocate was Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots.   

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft waves after attending a special owners meeting to vote on approval of the sale of the Washington Commanders, July 20, 2023, in Bloomington Minn. | Bruce Kluckhohn, Associated Press

He spoke to us about the current overt hatred and increased assaults on the Jewish community nationwide. These expressions of hatred have included incidents of harassment, vandalism, the proliferation of antisemitic online tropes and denial of the Holocaust. During his panel discussion, we were reminded of our connectedness and common history. 

As an example, we learned of the Jewish philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, who cared about Black people having access to education and built approximately 5,300 schools in the South between 1912 and 1937. This transformative initiative was the brainchild that grew out of a friendship between Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington, founding president of Tuskegee University. This Black-Jewish alliance focused on academic access and equality that had been eliminated and eroded by slavery and segregation. Two people with very different backgrounds came together with a common vision and made an indelible impression that influenced the world.

Related
Perspective: The meaning of Juneteenth
Perspective: Reflections on a memorable tour of the Washington D.C. Temple

Rosenwald’s schools were attended by writer Langston Hughes, opera singer Marian Anderson, poet Maya Angelou, painter Jacob Lawrence, Congressman John Lewis and slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers.      

Additionally, Kraft introduced us to the hashtag #standuptoJewishhate as well as the blue box emoji. The intention is to unite all of us in solidarity and support of the Jewish community    

The message was profound and simple — we need each other. This message draws from the past and forecasts a future of strength, support and success.  When we collectively endeavor in work for the greater good of humanity, we are stronger together, better together and thrive together. In the face of adversity, when we fight together, we win together, too.

The Rev. Theresa A. Dear is a national board member of the NAACP and a Deseret News contributor.