It's the oldest civil rights organization in the country, and the local branch of the NAACP is the only group in Erie County dedicated to rights of the common man and common woman. It's an old name from a bygone era, but it's a good name: the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
We all have color, and the local NAACP branch reformed itself late last year and has shown it is more ready than before to fight for community regardless of color. NAACP president Barbara Clark made that clear when she issued a statement last month taking the city to task for its lack of evidence against fired Sandusky police Chief Kim Nuesse. The fervor shown in that stand, for a white woman, speaks to the heritage of this venerable organization.
The NAACP was founded by a multi-racial group in 1909, a time when lynching was common and separate was anything but equal. It was the NAACP that forced President Woodrow Wilson to finally speak out against lynching in 1918. By 1954, the group successfully put an end to the sanctioned segregation the government also supported by pressing the case that led to the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown vs. Board of Education decision.
That timeline shows that the road toward equality and community is long and winding. A commitment to it does not promise instant gratification, but requires dedication and patience. Clark and the leadership team of the local NAACP chapter, which includes 20 involved and dedicated residents, already have shown they have what it takes to make that commitment and take on the new and different challenges we face as a community.
On Feb. 12, the NAACP observed its 100th anniversary being in the business of advancing the cause of all Americans, and the the re-organization of the local branch holds promise that new battles closer to home will be won.