Local NAACP Leaders Celebrate Centennial
The nation's most venerable watchdog for civil rights fairness is 100 years old.
O'Linda W. Gillis, president of the Moore County Unit of the National Association for Advancement of Colored People, and her husband, Willie Gillis, were in Raleigh Thursday to take part in the centennial observance.
Marking the event was adoption by the North Carolina General Assembly of a resolution honoring NAACP founders "for their vision and the service they rendered our nation and state." The resolution congratulates the NAACP as the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the nation on its 100th anniversary and expresses appreciation for its "significant contributions to social change."
"We have been the watchdog of education, economic and political issues, and we have made some progress," Gillis said Friday.
Gillis said the local NAACP has been active on such issues as employment and judicial fairness when questions are raised that African-Americans and other minority residents may have been treated unfairly. She said the NAACP tries to be discreet in its investigations but always follows through when allegations are serious.
"Some people wonder what we do," she said. "But we have been very active and very effective."
The Moore County unit recently celebrated its 71st year. It is not the only unit in the county, however, for another NAACP is centered in the Robbins area, with Jimmy Smith as president.
At one time, NAACP units were scattered throughout the county with a separate unit in almost every township. Gillis does not know when the decision was made to merge these units into one large chapter to serve the entire county. She has been president of the Moore County NAACP since 1997.
The national organization was founded Feb. 12, 1909, the centennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. The resolution adopted by the North Carolina legislature says that the multi-racial group of activists founded the NAACP during a conference held in response to incidents of ugly racist violence.
One incident was perpetrated by white mobs in 1908 in Springfield, Ill., ironically, the city where Lincoln's career began.
He became the president who issued the Emancipation Proclamation. The other incident was the racist event occurring 10 years earlier in Wilmington, N.C.
Founders of the NAACP include Ida Wells-Barnett, W.E.B. DuBois, Henry Moscowitz, Mary White Ovington, Oswald Garrison Villiard and William English Walling.
The legislature's resolution says the NAACP's "mission is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination." The organization works to achieve these goals through nonviolent methods.
Among its achievements are the 1954 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision assuring desegregation of public schools and passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960 and 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, and the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendment Act of 2006.
The resolution adds that in 2005, after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita attracted slow and ineffective response from the federal government, the NAACP stepped in with its own Disaster Relief Fund to help survivors.
Gillis said the local chapter continues to work for fairness and equality for all people.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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