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NAACP Pres. Spearman: “Come together and build power”

By Cash Michaels, Peacemaker Contributor / December 14, 2018

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Members of the NAACP from N.C. Central University in Durham: Auriel Pharr, Kailah Fields, Aleah King and Beatrice Beaubrun. Photo by Ivan S. Cutler/Carolina Peacemaker

The only way to fight harder, and stronger for equal justice, is to “…come together and build power,” Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, fifth president of the N.C. NAACP said Saturday (Dec. 8), during the State of the State of Civil Rights address at the 75th Annual Convention of the N.C. conference of branches in Raleigh.

Echoing the words of the NAACP’s national board Chairman Leon Russell, Spearman told membership gathered from across the state, “… it’s time to organize and not agonize. Try as you may to find it, there is no half-way ground between right and wrong. Either the one or the other must prevail. And I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna push right with all my might.”

Dr. Spearman emphasized the need for the N.C. NAACP and its branches statewide to intensify their political action and community action activities “…to build a strategic year-round GOTV (get out the vote) curriculum going forward.”

“Certainly we must preach the gospel of morality and the N.C. NAACP has, but when your civil and political rights are being encroached upon every hour we must also preach the gospel of organization,” The N.C. NAACP president maintained. “People who will not organize and put themselves under the wisest and best of their leaders cannot expect other people to look after their interests.”

Spearman also declared that the civil rights group must recommit itself to fighting voter suppression.

“We must find ways of fostering an inclusive, informed and more resolute electorate,” he said. “This will take an approach that considers comprehensive voter outreach, education, civic engagement and community organizing and power-building. In short, we must broaden the framing of the problem of voter suppression and craft tools for fighting it. The new wave of voting restrictions demands it.”

The N.C. NAACP president blasted the recent “lame duck” session of the Republican-led N.C. General Assembly, which convened to pass new voter photo ID legislation based on their ratified voter ID amendment that Spearman considers yet another extension of the GOP’s voter suppression efforts.
“The N.C. NAACP contends that this General Assembly did not have the authority to place any amendments on the ballot by virtue that it is an unconstitutionally constituted body. It falls into the category of “usurper” government.”

Rosa Eaton and Dr. Spearman. Photo by Cash Michaels/Carolina Peacemaker

Spearman continued, “There really is nothing new under the sun here in the state of North Carolina, lest we forget the year was 1898 when Alfred Moore Waddell, the ex-congressman from black belt Wilmington, told an election evening crowd to “go to the polls tomorrow and if you find the Negro out voting, tell him to leave the polls and if he refuses, kill him, shoot him down in his tracks.”

On Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper visited the convention. The gubernatorial visit was notable because last year, then N.C. NAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. William Barber refused to invite the Democratic governor because he would not look into the Dontae Sharpe case, a Black man supporters say was falsely convicted of a crime he did not commit.

The convention also had to be abbreviated to just a day-and-a-half because of the impending snowstorm that threatened to trap many convention attendees in Raleigh if they didn’t adjourn by 12 noon Saturday.

The convention weekend ended on a sad note.

N.C. NAACP members received word Sunday of the passing of 97-tear-old Rosa Nell Eaton, a plaintiff in the N.C. NAACP’s successful lawsuit against the Republican-led N.C. General Assembly and its 2013 voter photo I.D. law, which was eventually overturned by a federal court. “While we mourn, at the same time, we celebrate. We celebrate her steadfastness and her strength. We celebrate her commitment and her conviction. We celebrate her righteousness and her resolve. What an inspiration it was to watch her lead the way for us to fight and win the monstrous voter suppression bill of all,” Dr. Spearman said in a press release Sunday. “Mother Eaton kept her eye on the prize.”




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