Curiosity led Kieanna Childs Alexander ’07 to her first NAACP meeting in Trenton in 2005. Alexander remembers sitting quietly in the back of the room, listening to people who had been engaged in the struggle for Civil Rights.
“I was never the one who jumped into action. I stood back and observed, but I was also curious,” Alexander said. “I wondered, What is the point of what I am doing? Will I make a difference? Until I got to Rider, I never really got involved, but once I did, I started going from there.”
Six years later, Alexander has made history. On January 17 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day — the 30-year-old Alexander was in inaugurated as the youngest-ever elected president of the Trenton area chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP, whose mission is to ensure advocacy, advancement, and equality of all people. During her two-year term, she hopes to diversify membership of the Trenton branch, collaborate with other community organizations and create an awareness of what the NAACP does.
“It’s just amazing,” said Alexander about her new role. “I stayed the course, and never gave up. I knew that there was a duty ahead of me.”
While pursuing a degree in Liberal Studies from Rider’s College of Continuing Studies, Alexander began conducting independent research about the NAACP for a class with Dr. Pearlie-Mae Peters, professor of English, who encouraged her to delve deeper into the subject. Alexander said it was the faculty and staff at Rider who encouraged her to get more involved in the community where she was raised.
“The city of Trenton grew me. That city is my heart, body and soul,” said Alexander, who now resides in nearby Hamilton. “Trenton raises good people, and I want to continue to give back to them.”
As an undergraduate student, she joined National Council of Negro Women and began volunteering for various organizations, including the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. Eventually, at the Trenton chapter of the NAACP, Alexander became a more visible leader and quickly rose through its ranks.
“Rider molded me into the person I am today. I hope my story encourages other inner-city youth. I’m living proof. Statistically speaking, I should not have been there,” said Alexander of her time on campus. “I owe a lot of this to my learning at Rider.”