Blacks will continue to rise, pastor says

August 09, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The keynote speaker at the West Virginia NAACP annual convention Friday night told the crowd at the Dudley Baptist Church that black Americans will continue to rise despite the current political onslaught against affirmative action.

The Rev. Julius Caesar Hope, director of the NAACP's Department of Religious Affairs, said that some whites see affirmative action as reverse discrimination.

"Some white males talk about affirmative action as if it's against white males," Hope said.

But Hope said affirmative action is like a traffic signal that regulates the traffic flow without being for or against certain drivers. It just makes sure all drivers are operating by the same rules, he said.


More than 120 people attended the public meeting of the 53rd annual convention of the West Virginia State Conference of NAACP Branches.

This year's convention is being hosted by the Martinsburg branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

George Rutherford, president of the Jefferson County branch of the NAACP, said it was sad to see that local elected officials did not attend the meeting.

The NAACP continues to push for civil rights and to improve the relations between the races in America, Hope said.

"We're marathon runners, we're not 100-yard dash runners. We're in this for the long haul," Hope said.

But none of the work is possible without God, said Hope, who is a pastor in Detroit.

"He brought us from the back of the bus to now we can own the bus," Hope said.

Hope said that white men have nothing to fear from affirmative action.

White men make up 33 percent of all Americans, but control 90 percent of the U.S. Senate and 80 percent of the U.S. House of Representatives, he said.

Black Americans need to not only register more voters, they need to make it to the polls on election day, he said.

The national organization has been through some rough times in recent years, but has made a turnaround at the grass roots level and at the churches, Hope said in an interview before his speech.

At times, his speech was more church sermon than keynote address and he touched on a broad range of subjects, from violence on television and in music lyrics to God's love.

"We must stop the violence and start the love," he repeated several times, each time louder.

"Self-hatred breeds violence," he said. "What makes them feel so low they want to get high and kill somebody?"

Hope told the crowd to count the number of murders seen on prime-time television each week.

"Feed your mind garbage and garbage will come out," Hope said.

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