Tag Archives: NAACP

Slain NAACP leader honored in West TN ceremony

BROWNSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Seventy-five years after he was killed amid a drive to register black voters, a man historians believe to be the first NAACP member slain for daring to speak up for civil rights was remembered at a memorial service Saturday in the small West Tennessee town where he lost his life.

More than 500 people attended the service at a high school gymnasium to honor Elbert Williams, who was killed on June 20, 1940.

Williams was taken from his home by a group of men led by a police officer, and his body was found later in the Hatchie River. His slaying was never solved and his assailants were never identified.

NAACP President Cornell William Brooks spoke at the service and called Williams a martyr whose courage and determination should be emulated three-quarters of a century later as the nation continues to deal with violent acts fueled by racism.

Brooks noted the slayings earlier this week in Charleston, South Carolina, where authorities say a 21-year-old white man joined a prayer meeting inside a historic black church and shot nine people dead.

Like Williams, Brooks said those individuals are also martyrs, whose sacrifices should instill a “greater sense of determination” to stamp out racism in America.

Note: For more, see the Jackson Sun. An excerpt:

Brownsville has come a long way since, but still has a long way to go, according to Mayor Bill Rawls Jr. Last year, Rawls was elected as Brownsville’s first African-American mayor.

“As we fight to bring our community together … the struggle continues,” he said.

Cornell William Brooks, NAACP national president, said Tennessee has some of the strictest voting laws in the country to this day. One in 10 African Americans in the state do not have voter IDs, he said.

But civil rights movement martyrs did not die in vain, he said. Countless lives were taken as a consequence of their beliefs and convictions. Although Williams’ story is not well-known, he was an ordinary man with extraordinary courage.

TN NAACP leader backs Common Core standards

Tennessee NAACP leaders are supporting Common Core standards as a step toward equity for lower income, minority students, reports the Jackson Sun.

“The needs for high standards and quality schools and teachers is universal,” said Gloria Sweet-Love, president of the Tennessee State Conference of the NAACP. “But in the United States low income students and students of color are disproportionately taught in low performance schools and are not gaining knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and the work force.”

The forum was held Thursday at Lane College to discuss the Common Core State Standards.

…All five panelists supported the standards, saying they will help students graduate high school prepared for college or a career.

Clarence Boone, president of the Jackson-Madison County African American Chamber of Commerce, said he has known students who came into Madison County who had nothing left to learn from Jackson-Madison County Schools.

“And when they would leave, they would be so far behind that it would almost be embarrassing,” Boone said. “I think that Common Core is the answer if we can get all the pieces together.”

Sweet-Love said the standards would force educators to set high goals for their students and would keep students from falling behind if they moved to a different state or school district.

“Common, high academic standards offer us tremendous potential for bridging the gaps facing our children and our nation,” Sweet-Love said.

NAACP brings ‘Moral Week of Action’ to TN

The NAACP is asking Tennesseans to join in a week-long, statewide rally to address social injustices implemented through government policy “attacks” on civil and human rights, reports the Johnson City Press.

In a kickoff to the Tennessee State Conference of the NAACP’s Moral Week of Action, a volunteer-state edition of a new “Moral Movement” that has spread across 12 states, news conferences were held Thursday in Jonesborough, Nashville and Memphis with NAACP members, community leaders, clergy and representatives of other social justice advocacy organizations imploring Tennesseans to “stand up and speak up” for policy changes.
… The Jonesborough news conference also included an announcement of a weeklong roster of Teach-Ins and additional media events to be conducted across the state to address labor rights; fair wages; Medicaid expansion; justice reforms; immigration reform; early childhood education funding; stand-your-ground laws; women’s rights; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights; and numerous other social issues included in Tennessee’s Moral Movement.

“We’ve come to speak up and stand up for those who are unemployed and underemployed; those who have no voice in their places of work,” Davis said. “We’ve come to speak out against those elected officials, both state and national, who used their money and influence to defeat a union that would have adequately represented the workers of Volkswagen in Chattanooga. We’ve come to speak on behalf of Memphis Kellogg workers who were locked out of their jobs for more than 10 months.

“We’ve come because the legislature has spent the last few sessions stripping the teachers’ unions of their bargaining rights; cutting benefits for workers’ compensation and passing guns-in-bars and guns-in-parks laws. We’ve come because this governor and legislature (have) cut funding for Pre-K and early childhood education programs that have proven to raise test scores while allocating millions of dollars for online virtual schools that are just that, virtual, out in space, showing no significant enrollment or progress.

“We’ve come because every day there are small rural hospitals closing their doors and Tennesseans sick and dying because our governor has refused to expand Medicaid in our state,” Davis said.

Similar kickoffs media events were conducted Friday outside the state capitol building in Nashville and at the NAACP offices in Memphis. Moral action activities will begin in earnest today with “Mass Meetings” and “Teach-Ins” focused on youth and criminal justice to be conducted at Carver Recreation Center in Johnson City, at the University of Memphis and at the NAACP offices in Jackson.

Radio Personality Off Air After Inflammatory Facebook Comments

JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) — A popular Jackson radio personality is off the air for now after posting racially inflammatory comments on Facebook.
Bill Way, host of “It’s Your Turn” on WNWS-FM, posted the comments on his personal Facebook page over the weekend.
They were aimed at people who voted for President Obama.
Way apologized on air on Monday. Station president Carlton Veirs then read a statement saying the station does not condone Way’s remarks.
“We’re discussing his comments and apology,” Veirs said. “Considering the gravity of the situation, for now, by mutual agreement, Bill is taking a few days off.”
The Associated Press obtained Veirs’ statement from the station.
The president of the Jackson-Madison County of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said it was irresponsible of someone in Way’s position to make such offensive comments.
“We’re asking for a change of direction and attitude from one of Jackson’s most famous and entertaining talk show hosts,” Harrell Carter said in a telephone interview. “It is unconscionable, the language he used for the president of the United States and the first lady.”
Carter said he used to work at WNWS and knows Guy personally.
“This was out of the clear blue sky,” he said. “I don’t know what the circumstances were, but this was surprising and disappointing.”
He said any discussion of the country’s problems needs to begin from a position of mutual respect.

Note: Way’s Facebook post, as reported by The Jackson Sun: “A short message to Obama voters. To vote for him with a 9.2 unemployment rate, a (expletive) of Benghazi lies, $16,000,000,000 in debt and an israeli war, (a derogatory reference to the sex scandal involving David Petraeus), a pimp walking prez married to cheetahs daughter…expect what you will most certainly get. bye bye medicare. hello homeless.. I love America except for the idiots.”

Sarah Moore Greene, Civil Rights Icon, Dies at 102

Sarah Moore Greene, one of Knoxville’s most influential civil rights icons and community leaders, died this morning, reports the News Sentinel.
Ms.Greene — who celebrated her 102nd birthday in February — had been recovering from an illness and had been in and out of the Holston Health & Rehabilitation Center for physical therapy after a bout of pneumonia.
John Sibley, 64, Ms. Greene’s godson, said Ms. Greene was taken Monday to the Physicians Regional Medical Center on Broadway because of dehydration.
“She was resting in her room and just slipped away,” he said.
…Greene was the first black member of the Knoxville Board of Education and a Tennessee delegate to the Republican National Convention. She is also a former state and local president of the NAACP and over the years fought for desegregation and civil rights in schools and the wider community.
Every year around her birthday, the students at Sarah Moore Greene Magnet Technology Academy honored her.
The school was named after Greene in 1974 and became a magnet school with a focus on technology in 1996.

NAACP Leaders: Photo ID Law Raises ‘Racial Disparity Issue’

State and national NAACP leaders held a news conference Saturday in opposition to Tennessee’s voter identification law, which passed last May. The Tennessean reports they said the law, which requires residents to submit a photo ID to vote, is a “racial disparity issue.”
“This state is seeking to go back to the days before we had the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” said NAACP state President Gloria Sweetlove. “We stand here and ask every person to fight with us.”
Under the 1965 law, voting practices and procedures discriminating on the the basis of race, color or language were prohibited. The NAACP’s take on the current law is that it is discriminatory against certain populations, including African-Americans, the poor, immigrants, women and senior citizens.
But proponents of the law, including state Rep. Debra Maggart, R-Hendersonville, say that’s not the case, adding that legislators modeled the Tennessee law after a 2005 Indiana law that has been challenged and upheld in the U.S. Supreme Court.
“In that case, the justices found that the burden for an election to be pure and true was more important than anything,” Maggart said. “The burden of having to go and get a photo ID was not greater than the burden of having a true, honest election.”

NAACP Organizes Ministers for GOTV, Citing Photo ID Law

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — The NAACP in Chattanooga is helping lead a statewide effort to recruit black ministers to get out the vote.
Joe Rowe, vice president of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that nearly two-dozen ministers from different denominations already are involved (http://bit.ly/y8JXwF). From now until the presidential election in November, the ministers will organize marches, host voter registration drives and offer transportation to the polls.
The Rev. Jeffrey Wilson, pastor of Chattanooga’s New United Missionary Baptist Church, said, “We want to send out notice to the elected officials and the powers that be. We want to let them know that we are concerned, we vote and we care about what’s going on in this community.”
The NAACP effort was prompted by concerns that a new requirement for voters to show photo identification at the polls could disenfranchise thousands.
Republicans sponsored Tennessee’s voter ID law, saying it would combat voter fraud. But many Democrats say the law will discourage voters who tend to vote for their candidates, such as the poor, minorities and students.
Most forms of state or federally issued identification are acceptable at the polls. The state estimates that about 126,000 registered voters in Tennessee could be affected. About 15,000 people have received government IDs for voting since the law was approved last year. It went into effect in January.
In all, 15 states are expected to have photo ID laws in place by the November elections, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and NAACP chapters across the nation are involved in the get-out-the-vote effort.
The theme of the campaign is “Still in Crisis,” a reference to the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s.
And the Rev. Kenneth Love, pastor of St. Paul AME Church and executive director of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, said that just as ministers led marches for voting rights in the 1960s, they are leading the fight to maintain those rights in 2012.