Georgetown’s NAACP Pres. Gets Attention for Her Race (She’s White)

Nice story from my alma mater. People of all ethnic groups and races should fight for justice for all people – even if they don’t belong to the same group. Ms. Gunderson is setting a fine example.

The president of Georgetown University’s chapter of the NAACP is thoughtful and determined. Also, she is white.

The national organization has had several white presidents, but Ellie Gunderson is making headlines — in the Washington City Paper and the Detroit Free Press — for leading Georgetown’s chapter.

Ms. Gunderson, a sophomore, is from Southfield, Mich., a predominantly black suburb of Detroit. In audio clips on the City Paper’s Web site, she talks about having celebrated Black History Month and studied the civil-rights movement in school. “That was always, always emphasized, like from kindergarten,” she says.

What she learned outside the classroom influenced her perspective, too. “Growing up kind of, like, poor … even though I’m not a minority, made me more sympathetic towards people that aren’t treated equally for whatever reason,” she says, in an inflection the City Paper calls “unmistakably ‘urban.’”

Black classmates at Georgetown were initially taken aback by her voice and mannerisms, says the City Paper, but later they nominated her to lead their NAACP chapter.

This fall Ms. Gunderson helped to defuse a tense episode with a campus student newspaper, The Hoya. Black students had criticized the paper for giving a Jena Six rally short shrift and then publishing an unsympathetic column. “The Hoya Is Racist” was scrawled in chalk on a campus square.

Ms. Gunderson had long discussions with the columnist, after which they agreed that The Hoya should reach out to minority students. —Sara Lipka

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