By Rosaland Tyler
New Journal and Guide
There are several reasons why Carlos Clanton was not stunned to hear he had made history when he became the ninth president of the National Urban League Young Professionals.
In plain terms, he has paid his dues. The first person from Hampton Roads to hold the post, Clanton drove to campaign stops in 20 states for three months before he learned he’d won the post at the organization’s recent annual convention in Fort Lauderdale.
“I campaigned for three months, fundraised and saved,” said Clanton, a 35-year-old educator, who grew up in Park Place and Lambert’s Park, in a single-parent household headed by his mother, Patricia Clanton, the mother of three.
“I never imagined this is a place I would be,” he said. “The slate was unopposed but I had to actively campaign.”
To him, campaigning for office is not a complex feat. After all his grandmother, Charlene Cox, often told him he could do anything before she passed in 2003. Anything included joining the Virginia Opera Association at age 10, winning the election for freshman class president at Norfolk State University, and becoming a member of the Student Senate and president of the College Democrats at Old Dominion University at age 19.
Meanwhile, Hampton Roads Urban League president and Chief Executive Officer Edith White has offered him guidance. Clanton has worked for almost two decades with the National Urban League Young Professionals. It focuses on issues that affect those ages 21-42.
Accustomed to working with others to launch change, Clanton said his top three goals are to increase jobs for individuals ages 21-42. No. 2, he wants to work on debt and loan forgiveness. No. 3, he wants to recruit more members ages 18-20.
“I have challenged young professionals around the country to step up, bring resources, and energy to support the local affiliate,” he said.
“I am living a lot of dreams I never imagined,” he said. “To be elected is a great honor. I will use this opportunity wisely, to make an impact in my community.”
His resume suggests he has already exceeded the daydreams he would spin while watching the TV show, Another World. Those dreams pushed him to run for office as a freshman at Norfolk State.
“I campaigned by standing outside of the Student Union Building and passing out flyers,” he said. “Later that evening I sat on the sofa in the Student Union Building, exhausted, and somebody said, ‘You won.’ That is where it started.”
This means his recent history-making feat connects back to other honors including a 2002 undergraduate degree from Old Dominion.
At age 23, he was named as one of Hampton Roads Top 20 under 30 African-American Leaders by African-American Today Magazine. At age 27, he was named as a Top 40 under 40 winner by Hampton Roads Inside Business magazine. In 2013, he won the Humanitarian Award from the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities.
Of his latest accomplishment, he said, “I will work directly with our Washington bureau to figure out a way we can support loan and debt forgiveness, and support new initiatives for community colleges.”
“I want to make sure our foundations and chapters are strong and can support the local affiliates,” he said. “I have challenged young professionals around the country to step up, bring resources, and energy to support the local affiliate.”
Clanton is also the executive director of the Office of Community Engagement and Strategic Partnerships for Norfolk Public Schools and the Norfolk Education Foundation.