By Kallie Drake, staff writer
In celebration of the birth of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Morgan County branch held a Founder’s Day celebration at Indian Creek Baptist Church. It was held on February 12, marking the 106th year of the NAACP.
Pastor Aaron Carter of Bethlehem Baptist Church was the master of ceremonies for the evening, and he introduced former Madison City Council member and active NAACP member Michael Naples to greet attendees. Naples stressed that 2014 was an unbelievable year for the NAACP, but there are still challenges before the organization.
“We have not yet reached the top of the mountain. We have to show up. People have to see us to know we are serious,” Naples said. Scripture was read and the group sang “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.”
NAACP Youth Council member Charelle Howell gave an overview of the history of the NAACP, noting that it is the nation’s oldest, largest and most widely recognized civil rights organization. NAACP member Paulette Melvin introduced the speaker for the evening, Chief Earnest Calvin Marshall. Marshall is a Vietnam veteran and a member of the NAACP among various other civil rights and political involvements.
Marshall began his activism in civil rights in his early teens when he marched in peaceful protest of segregation. He has seen much improvement in American civil rights over the years, but like Naples, also feels there is work to be done. Marshall feels that the name of the game is economics, and that should be the focus of the NAACP.
In order to do that, he proposed that people form co- ops and get grants written for the causes they will support. “We have lost common sense in politics and schools. We’ve got to bring our country back together,” Marshall said.
The gathered audience was extremely receptive to Marshall’s words and ended the celebration feeling motivated. Applying the ideas in Marshall’s speech, Lifetime NAACP member Shelia Tolbert announced a Black History Month celebration taking place at Bethlehem Baptist Church and reminded attendees to vote in upcoming local elections, as that is the level at which their influence begins.