By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
WOODBINE – Alexander Bland may be a little modest at 30, but he starting to make a name for himself and becoming one of most noteworthy young African-American leaders in South Jersey as president of the reactivated Cape May County NAACP.
Bland, who is the youngest NAACP local chapter president in South Jersey and one of the youngest in the state, is also a member of the Woodbine Board of Education.
“I just know I didn’t like what was going on so I needed to make the world a better place,” Bland told Front Runner New Jersey this week, who had guided the Cape May chapter in January. “It started being a role model for people younger than me, but now I’ve inspired people older than me said.
“They said, ‘You inspire me, you inspire me to do something.’ I live for it. It’s all I ever wanted to do was inspire people and motivate people, and I guess being a role model, it lets people know, ‘Hey, we don’t have to keep doing things like this or if you want to complain, instead of just complaining, why don’t you do something about it?'”
Doing Something About It
That is what Bland, a graduate of Millville High School, is doing.
He works as a nurse providing home care for Star Pediatric along with working in group homes for Caring Inc. He has volunteered at food banks, hosted basketball clinics and movie nights at the local rec center and mentoring youth as a Boy Scout master of Woodbine Troop and Pack No. 77.
All of those things are on top of his duties with the Cape May NAACP, which he has helped push to about 100 members.
“We try to do what we care for the community,” Bland said of his work with the NAACP and other groups. “We had one of our County freeholders who’s the director of the health department coming to speak and Jeffrey Pearson, and we had our County health educator come and speak to the branch. And after that, we just wanted to hear from the community and hear what we can do to help and let people know that we’re out here and that we are working.
“It’s not too much we can do under the NAACP guidelines because they said we can’t do anything in person, but we still out here, doing food banks. When we go into different food banks, helping people, helping different food banks,” Bland said.
Bland, a native of Philadelphia, attended Woodbine Elementary School through the eight grade before attending Millville High School. He earned his LPN license after high school after spending time at Cumberland County College, now Rowan College of South Jersey. He is now attending Atlantic Cape Community College for his RN associate’s.
While begrudging becoming 30, Bland said “it feels good” to be the youngest local NAACP branch president.
“It’s always a struggle to be honest with you,” Bland said. “Trying to narrow it down to one mission and one objective, it’s a struggle, but on the outside looking in it’s a beautiful thing. Whitesboro’s a prominent African-American community in Cape May County. The African-American community is just three percent in Cape May County, but Woodbine has a decent amount of minorities.
“I mean, it’s scattered over, so I try to make it so we could keep our membership up and we just go by our mission, our national mission, which is we help everybody,” Bland said.
Bland said the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down the progress his chapter has made but has been working forward to keeping the momentum going with the technology of the day. Bland has paid virtual visits to other chapters on social media sites. He is also pushing for voter registration.
“We got to be respected in the county. People got to know what the NAACP is and what it stands for, so that’s my biggest thing is that for everybody to know about the NAACP. You should know about the NAACP like you know, about the local Walmart,” he added.
Bland said he is most happy about the chapter being a place where people across political stripes can come together. He said history making NJ Assemblyman Antwan McClellan is a member. McClellan, a Republican, made history last November by becoming the first African-American elected to represent Cape May County in the New Jersey State Assembly.
“It’s time for us to band together and let people know the importance of voting, the importance of sticking together and become a resource for single moms, single dads, not even a single mom and dad, become a resource for different families that don’t know about certain opportunities,” Bland said.
“[McClellan] has been so supportive and we are a nonpartisan organization, he’s a Republican and I’m a Democrat but it’s not about that. We need more African American teachers in Cape May County. And not even African American, but young, young people from the culture, people that know the struggle, people that are people that are aware of it. You can’t know it unless you you’ve been in it.”
Even at 30, Bland has been in it and is now making Cape May County better for everyone.
Photos courtesy of Alexander Bland. Photo of Sherly Cisrow and Tracy Cardwell by Clayton Palmer.
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