County’s NAACP holds banquet

By MARLAN JONES,

The Simpson County branch of the NAACP  held their annual banquet on February 24 at Nazareth Baptist Church in Mendenhall. The theme of the banquet this year focused on helping the next generation.

The NAACP, or National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was established in 1909 and is America’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.

It was formed in New York City by black and white activists, partially in response to the ongoing violence against African Americans around the country. In the NAACP’s early decades, its anti-lynching campaign was central to its agenda.

During the civil rights era in the 1950s and 1960s, the group won major legal victories, and today the NAACP has more than 2,200 branches and some half a million members worldwide.

 Simpson County NAACP President Carl Burton called the banquet to order, and Reverend Kenneth Skiffer gave the invocation. Dinner was catered by “O’ Taste & See” Catering. Following dinner, special guest Clarence Magee spoke on helping the next generations succeed through upholding the mission of the NAACP.

The mission of the NAACP is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.

 During the banquet citizens who are involved with improving the community are recognized.

Ernestine Skiffer owns and operates Hope Christian Academy in D’Lo  and was recognized for an excellent job educating several students. Skiffer was the recipient of the Dr. Katheryn B. Weathersby Education Award.

George Jackson who was recognized for embodying what it means to serve his community, was awarded the E.L. Lee Community Service Award.

Teresa Bowen was honored and received the Nathan Ruben Person of the Year Award.

A special tribute was paid to Willie Carl McDonald, who passed away last year. The Simpson County NAACP  acknowledged McDonald for his faithfulness and labors of love for the people of Simpson County and surrounding areas.

President Carl Burton gave the closing remarks to conclude the banquet.

The Simpson County NAACP is one of many organizations continuing the fight for the vision of a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race. The NAACP has been an instrumental in shaping the country. The effort of its members has led to many changes throughout the United States’ history. The following is a brief history of the NAACP’s accomplishments. 

The NAACP established its national office in New York City in 1910. By 1913, with a strong emphasis on local organizing, the NAACP had established branch offices in multiple cities. NAACP membership grew rapidly, from around 9,000 in 1917 to around 90,000 in 1919, with more than 300 local branches.

A series of early court battles, including a victory against a discriminatory Oklahoma law that regulated voting by means of a grandfather clause, Guinn v. United States, 1910, helped establish the NAACP’s importance as a legal advocate. The fledgling organization also learned to harness the power of publicity through its 1915 battle against D. W. Griffith’s inflammatory Birth of a Nation, a motion picture that perpetuated demeaning stereotypes of African Americans and glorified the Ku Klux Klan.

Among the Association’s top priorities was eradicating lynching. Throughout its 30-year campaign, the NAACP waged legislative battles, gathered and published crucial statistics, organized mass protests, and produced artistic material all in the name of bringing an end to the violence. After early worries about its constitutionality, the NAACP strongly supported the federal Dyer Bill, which would have punished those who participated in or failed to prosecute lynch mobs. Though the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill, a Senate filibuster defeated it for good in 1922. Despite repeated opportunities in years to follow, such as the Costigan-Wagner Bill, Congress never passed any anti-lynching legislation. Many credit the NAACP report “Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889-1919” and the public debate that followed with drastically decreasing the incidence of lynching.

In 1930, Walter F. White was named as executive secretary. White presided over the NAACP’s most productive period of legal advocacy. In 1930 the association commissioned the Margold Report, which became the basis for the successful reversal of the separate-but-equal doctrine that had governed public facilities since Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). In 1935, White recruited Charles H. Houston as NAACP chief counsel. Houston was the Howard University law school dean whose strategy on school-segregation cases paved the way for his protégé Thurgood Marshall to prevail in 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education, the decision that overturned Plessy.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, which was disproportionately disastrous for African Americans, the NAACP began to focus on economic justice. After years of tension with white labor unions, the Association cooperated with the newly formed Congress of Industrial Organizations in an effort to win jobs for black Americans. White, a friend and adviser to First Lady and NAACP national board member Eleanor Roosevelt, met with her often in an attempt to convince President Franklin D. Roosevelt to outlaw job discrimination in the armed forces, defense industries, and the agencies created by the New Deal.

Roosevelt ultimately agreed to open thousands of jobs to black workers. President Roosevelt also set up a Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC) to ensure compliance.

Throughout the 1940s, the NAACP saw enormous growth in membership, recording roughly 600,000 members by 1946. It continued to act as a legislative and legal advocate, pushing for a federal anti-lynching law and for an end to state-mandated segregation.

By the 1950s the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, headed by Thurgood Marshall, secured the last of these goals through Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which outlawed segregation in public schools. The NAACP’s Washington, D.C., bureau, led by lobbyist Clarence M. Mitchell Jr., helped advance not only integration of the armed forces in 1948 but also passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1964, and 1968 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

NAACP Mississippi field secretary Medgar Evers and his wife Myrlie became high-profile targets for pro-segregationist violence and terrorism. In 1962, their home was firebombed and later Medgar was assassinated by a sniper in front of their residence. Violence also met black children attempting to enter previously segregated schools in Little Rock, Arkansas, and other southern cities.

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s echoed the NAACP’s goals, but leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, felt that direct action was needed to obtain them. Although the NAACP was criticized for working too rigidly within the system, prioritizing legislative and judicial solutions, the Association did provide legal representation and aid to members of other protest groups over a sustained period of time. The NAACP even posted bail for hundreds of Freedom Riders in the ‘60s who had traveled to Mississippi to register black voters and challenge Jim Crow policies.

 The NAACP’s initiatives for the 21st century can best be summarized by its six “Game Changers”: economic sustainability, education, health, public safety and criminal justice, voting rights and political representation, and expanding youth and young adult engagement.