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NAACP chapter growing

August 05, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - After occasional periods of dormancy, Washington County's NAACP chapter is working to strengthen itself again.

Samuel Key, the chapter's president, said it had fewer than 30 members when he took over about a year ago, but now it has more than 100.

Membership hit about 140, but youth members were split into a separate group, he said.

"We're going in the right direction," Key said.

Today, the chapter is holding its annual Freedom Fund banquet - a main fundraiser for many chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Elizabeth Morgan, the Washington County Public Schools superintendent, is scheduled to speak. Her topic is "Education: A Civil Right."

Morgan said Thursday that citizens must be able to read candidates' positions and think through them to choose the best leaders.

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"Education is basic to a well-run democracy," she said.

Morgan said she'll discuss parallels of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down racial segregation in schools.

The Freedom Fund banquet will be at 6 p.m. at the Plaza Hotel in Halfway.

About 90 people are expected to attend, compared to about 65 last year, said Thomas Gibson, the chapter's first vice president.

Key said the chapter is trying to reaffirm its commitment to improving housing, schools, jobs and criminal justice, among other issues. "That, right there, gives you a platform that's full," he said.

The Washington County NAACP chapter has held social events recently, such as a picnic at Wheaton Park and a walk at Fairgrounds Park, Gibson said.

The chapter expects to have a countywide town hall meeting in the fall. Key said residents will be invited to talk about the biggest problems in the community. Comments will be forwarded to local government officials.

"We want folks to know that we're here," he said. "That has been a problem in the past."

In 2002, then-president James Irvin said the chapter was "just getting back off the ground" after some years of inactivity.

The same feeling is back. "We're really getting started," said Gibson, adding that many people didn't know the chapter existed.

Gibson said he moved to Washington County from South Carolina about five years ago because of his job with Mack Trucks (now Volvo Powertrain North America).

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