Sunday, November 18, 2012

ReEnergEyed by Charleston NAACP 95th Freedom Banquet

What an awesome day in Charleston, SC!  I really experienced an epiphany yesterday. After hearing from two dynamic leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, I came away with a total change of mind and heart.  I was educated on just what this organization has done in the SC low country, and the impact on the state as a whole.  Prior to this awakening, I had given up on the NAACP based on a negative experience I had with the Myrtle Beach chapter some years ago.  I am ever so appreciative that my ancestral connection with my paternal line has drawn me back to my Charleston root connections!
My afternoon began with the Friends of Charleston Association for the Study and Life of African Americans (ASALH*) monthly meeting at the Avery Institute of African American Research and Culture, College of Charleston.  
The featured speaker was the Rev. Nelson B, Rivers, III.  He shared a myriad of personal vignettes from his youth to current political events which are impacting all South Carolinians.  I was so moved that I made a decision to join forces with the Charleston chapter.  
 "... for 35 years, Rev. Rivers has worked at every level of the NAACP, including President, North Charleston Branch; Executive Director, South Carolina State Conference; Director of the Southeast Region; Chief Operating Officer and twice as Chief of Field Operations, and is currently Vice President of Stakeholder Relations of the NAACP.  His work led to the election of more than 300 new black elected officials in South Carolina between 1986 and 1994.  He was a leading organizer of the largest civil rights demonstration in the history of South Carolina when over 50,000 marched on the capitol in January 2000 to demand the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag.  He is on the Board of Trustees of  Wilberforce University.  From 1994 to 1998, he served as president of the university's Alumni Association. During his tenure, membership tripled and the alumni contributed over $2 million to the university".  (retrieved from, 11/17/12.)
I later attended the NAACP 95th Annual Freedom banquet at the North Charleston Convention Center.  This year's honorees included Dr. Millicent Brown of Claflin University, Dr. Brenda Nelson of Charleston County School District, and three time Olympiad Katrina McClain.  
The keynote address was delivered by Benjamin Todd Jealous, the 17th President and CEO of the NAACP.  This young man is a dynamic speaker.  He presented a number of points and directives, which only a seasoned leader can impart.  Again, my decision to give the NAACP another chance, was  intensified.  Thank you Mr. Jealous!  
"Appointed at age 35 in 2008, he is the youngest person to lead the century old organization.  During his tenure, the NAACP's online activists have swelled from 175,000 to more than 600,000; its donors have increased from 16,000 individuals per year to more than 120,000; and its membership has increased three years in a row for the first time in more than 20 years.
Jealous began his career as a community organizer in Harlem in 1991 with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund while working his way through college.  In 1993, after being suspended for organizing student protests at Columbia University, he went to work as an investigative reporter for Mississippi's frequently-firebombed Jackson Advocate newspaper". (retrieved from, 11/17/12)
Charleston Friends of ASALH is dedicated to the following mission: To promote , research, preserve, interpret and disseminate information about Black life, history and culture to the global community.
Established on September 9, 1915 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, we are the Founders of Black History Month and carry forth the work of our founder, the Father of Black History.