On Sunday, as part of the 30th annual Martin Luther King Day membership event, the Martha’s Vineyard chapter of the NAACP will honor two high school students, Olivia Jacobs and Jared Livingston, for their service to the community.

“We wanted to make this an intergenerational gathering,” said Joyce Rickson, who co-chairs the committee that organizes the event. Tony Lombardi, director of the teen center at the Martha’s Vineyard YMCA, will also be recognized, and several students from Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School will help staff the event. It will be an afternoon affair, rather than the traditional dinner, in part to make it easier for young people to attend.

Ms. Rickson said the two students have exemplified Dr. King’s intention “to provide community service in a way that is intergenerational, multicultural, honors diversity.”

Miss Jacobs recently travelled to a village in Ghana to teach math and English to third graders. She also volunteers at the Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Mr. Livingston is one of the founders of the Elder Tech Program, which provides older adults with assistance using social media. He is also active in environmental advocacy.

The featured speaker on Sunday will be Doris Dumas, a professor at Yale University who heads the New Haven branch of the NAACP and has been active in youth programs.

Over the years, the Island branch of the NAACP has recognized the growing value of youth participation, but has struggled to attract young members. It hopes to re-establish an Island youth chapter, but it needs at least 25 members before it can apply to the national group for approval.

Six years ago, on the 100th anniversary of the NAACP, Laurie Perry-Henry, who was chapter president at the time, wrote in the Gazette that the group’s “most enduring responsibility to future generations” was to help young people get involved in social justice issues and to provide them with networking and social opportunities.

“The nation and the Island are in the midst of transition and change,” she wrote, and the local branch was “committed to reactivating a youth council.” She also noted a shift within the NAACP, which was focusing more “on economic and social justice issues rather than the civil rights struggles of the past.”

Current chapter president Erik Blake, who is also the chief of police in Oak Bluffs, said in an email this week that involving young people is the chapter’s biggest challenge and also one of its main initiatives. “It is imperative that their voices be heard and a new generation builds on the success of the past,” he wrote.

The Island chapter was founded in December of 1963 by Vineyarder Kivie Kaplan and others in the community. Mr. Kaplan later became the national president of the NAACP. Housing and employment have always been among the branch’s primary concerns, and significant gains have been made in influencing the hiring policies at Island institutions.

When the chapter was first formed it had 79 members, 24 of whom were young people. But today, only a few of the 300 or so members are young people.

There was an Island youth chapter in the past, Ms. Rickson said, “but it’s been a while, and the children grow up and they leave, and we don’t get other children joining.”

Former president Jacqueline Hunt, who now serves on the executive committee, joined the branch in 1969, when Harold Johnson, an early member, approached her at the high school. “Since I was the only black face at the high school at the time, he thought that I might want to hear what’s going on, on the Island,” she said.

She recalled that in the 1970s and 1980s young people were much more involved in the Island NAACP than they are today. “The society has changed,” she said. “It’s a ‘me’ society.” And being part of an organized cause “means you have to sublimate your ego for the good of the group.”

One of the goals for the branch, she said, is “to engage young people, to let them know what responsibilities are to an organization that has a point of view.”

Vice president Carrie Tankard, who moved to the Island from New Jersey during the Newark riots of 1967, is grateful that the Island does not have to face the kind of violence seen in other parts of the country that are more deeply affected by racism.

“Some of the problems that occur off-Island don’t normally occur here,” she said. But she noted how a group of over 50 Vineyarders marched in Tisbury on Jan. 1 to protest violence against African Americans and police officers in solidarity with the nationwide movements.

Ms. Hunt emphasized that racism is evident everywhere in the country, even on the Vineyard. “I would characterize it as very covert,” she said. “Education, work, housing, politics — all of those institutions that give our society meaning, they are noticeably absent of people of color in decision-making positions.” And without the engagement of young people, she said, it is harder to gauge the extent of the problem.

Among other things, she hopes to expand black history programming in Island schools and to include more of the community in planning for the chapter’s future. In particular, she hopes to hear more young people asking questions, and to engage them in meaningful dialog. “You want to open the eyes of their understanding and say, let’s look at what this civil rights really means.”

One thing that makes the Island chapter unique, wrote Mr. Blake, is its openness to the community. “It doesn’t matter if you are black or white, young or old, we all have a part to play in keeping Dr. King’s message alive. Our support and our strength is grass roots and our goal is to keep the good name and solid work done by our branch moving forward.”

The 30th annual Martin Luther King Day membership and recognition event is Sunday, Jan. 18, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Portuguese-American Club in Oak Bluffs.