If a Black person gets in trouble, he calls out two names, Jesus and the NAACP.
Today marks the 100th anniversary of an iconic organization reviled by segregationists, conservatives, and Dixiecrats and revered by people of all ethnic groups who seek justice and equality.
The NAACP will be celebrating its status as the oldest civil rights organization in the States with a year long series of events. In addition to the Founders Day ceremonies that will kick off the celebration, the 40th annual NAACP Image Awards hosted by Halle Berry and Tyler Perry will be taking place later this evening in Los Angeles.
It has come a long way since being founded in 1909 by a group of Jewish and African American people in New York. And as Joe Madison's comment that starts this post alludes to, whenever there was trouble and we called on the NAACP, they answered it.
Whether it was getting the message out through its magazine edited by NAACP founder W.E.B. DuBois called Crisis, fighting to enact an anti-lynching bill, topple school segregation, having its legal arm under legendary attorneys Charles Hamilton Houston and future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall attack the laws buttressing Jim Crow, or assisting Civil Rights Movement campaigns, the NAACP has fought on our people's behalf to tackle the issues of the day.
That tradition has continued into this century with the Congressional Civil Rights Report Cards which track the performance of every congressmember and senator on civil rights issues important to our people to calling out the lack of diversity in Hollywood and various industries.
Here's hoping that the NAACP will add to it's mission fighting for the rights of the African-American GLBT people that are its members as well.
It's had a sometimes bumpy ride, and far from being an anachronistic relic of our past, as its new slogan boldly proclaims, the NAACP is now. I shudder to think where we'd be without the NAACP as part of Black America, and in Benjamin Todd Jealous it has a dynamic young leader to take it into its second century.
My greatest hope/desire for the NAACP is that it will reinvigorate the local chapters of the organization. While the work of the organization on the national level is important, I am saddened at how infrequently I have seen representation of the organization in my community (I lived in the working class area of Southwest Houston as a kid) and when I went to college the listed number for the local office was defunct with no forwarding contact info.
How then do we get a new generation of people invested in maintaining this organization at its core value of service and uplift to the community (versus those who would seek to make it a status marker on their resumes for example) if they cannot see it in action.
I still congratulate the organization in turning 100. It is a beautiful thing to see any Black organization achieve such longevity. But we cannot rest on our histories we have to make sure we are still at the front of the line preparing the way for an even more stupendous future.
I and my siblings had NAACP youth memberships back in the day.
When I moved here to Louisville I tried to join the local chapter in 2002 along with my homegirl Sharron.
They held their meetings at the time in an office building in Old Louisville starting at 7 PM, and when both of us showed up at 7:05 PM after I rode two buses to get there after I got off from work at 6 PM I found the doors locked.
Too many of the locals are either run like private membership clubs or dominated by narrow minded ministers as presidents of chapters. Far from letting that discourage us, we need to join and bring like minded people into these chapters to make the changes that will bring an infusion of youth with fresh ideas.
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