Subtlety and patience are not his way, never have been.
Kobi Little, 23, has always homed straight in on his target, whether organizing a protest or simply making a point in conversation. He went to the Johns Hopkins University in the fall of 1989, and by the time summer came around, he was voted president of the Black Student Union.
In typical fashion, he has picked a fight with the leadership of the local branch of the NAACP, only a year after he began attending the branch's board meetings. And he has toned up his talk to match.
"To tell you the truth, the NAACP Baltimore branch hasn't done a hell of a lot. It's not involved in very many issues. They've just done some things to keep their doors open," he said during an interview Thursday.
He said that he, unlike "forces which are interested in maintaining personal prestige and power and maintaining the status quo," wants to give the branch effective leadership.
Mr. Little is running for the presidency of the branch and has filed suit, along with three other people, in an effort to delay the election and to determine whether about 500 youth members he recruited will be allowed to vote.
The youth members have all paid their dues, $3, but national and local board members maintain that $10 adult memberships are necessary to enable them to vote. A hearing on the issue is scheduled for Monday afternoon in Baltimore Circuit Court.
Mr. Little's push, especially coming from a newly minted college graduate, has incensed his opponents. They say he is part of a movement by disgruntled supporters of the Rev. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., the ousted national NAACP leader, to take over key branches of the organization.
Mr. Little was part of a group that protested outside the meeting in August that led to Dr. Chavis' ouster and has since accompanied him to court appearances in Washington.
"Mr. Little came on the board, and after a few months, rather than being a force for change, he became a force for divisiveness," said Rodney A. Orange, president of the chapter and his opponent in the election. "He began to attack me and other board members with all sorts of charges of mismanagement."
Even older adults who admire many of his abilities say Mr. Little should be a little less fiery and a little more diplomatic.
"He is leadership material. He can get a leadership role, but he can't do it with flaring elbows," said Janelle Cousino, a member of the branch's board. "He wants everything to happen yesterday."
In the interview Thursday, Mr. Little went into a long explanation of his agenda for the civil rights group and then -- without missing a beat -- jabbed at his opponents.
"This is not about young people vs. old people. This election is about aggressive forces who wish to really accomplish some things in the community to get some work done in the community, to do the voter registration, to advocate for equal funding for schools, to get out and increase the membership of the NAACP," he said.
"Kobi Little is not running to take over the Baltimore NAACP. . . . I know the people who are running for the other offices and I believe I can work with them."
Mr. Little, who grew up in northwest Washington before moving to Baltimore, has always preferred discussing ideas or reading books to light socializing. His parents are also serious people, who met each other at Howard University, lived in Washington and became involved in the black student movements of the 1960s and 1970s.
Mr. Little initially aspired to be a neurosurgeon, but once he moved to Baltimore in 1986 and went to Dunbar High School, he focused on politics.
Teachers and administrators alike remember a neat young man who was bright but also was usually dead serious, overtly ambitious and very goal-oriented. It was clear, they said, that he was single-mindedly grooming himself for a career in politics.
Mr. Little was an officer in student government and a student commissioner on the city school board before going on to Hopkins. There he joined the university chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and became its president his senior year. A political science major, he graduated in May and says he has been supporting himself by speaking before student groups.
At Hopkins, he became known for mobilizing students, organizing events and protests and speaking out. He vastly increased the NAACP college membership and in 1992 helped draft 16 demands for campus change, including more black faculty members, greater sensitivity from campus police and a black studies program.
He organized protests against a Black History Month display at the library that many students found offensive and introduced a speech by Leonard Jeffries Jr., a controversial City College of New York professor.