The NAACP has emerged over the past year as a conduit for those dissatisfied with the policies of the Republican-controlled General Assembly and governor’s mansion.
“Wherever there is a problem that is infringing on people’s rights and not giving them justice, their mission is to help them give them a voice, to help speak for you in situations where you are not able to do it as individuals,” said Rev. William Staley, pastor of Jones Temple A.M.E. Zion Church in Waynesville and an organizer of the local NAACP chapter in Haywood.
The NAACP chapter in Jackson County already has 121 members, and counting.
“It is critical mass that creates the change,” said Myrtle Schrader, who helped get the NAACP chapter off the ground in Jackson County. She sees it as the perfect vehicle to mobilize and educate the electorate.
“It is a non-partisan effort to address the injustice we see happening to our wonderful state, where anyone of any persuasion can come together as a coalition and work for justice,” she said.
The NAACP has tapped its organizational capacity for mobilizing and motivating people to orchestrate the Moral Movement, a series of large-scale protests that have brought tens of thousands of residents from across the state to the doorstep of the General Assembly.
“I think the NAACP has been a catalyst for coalition building,” said Mary McGlauflin of Haywood County, who is also spearheading the chapter there.
McGlauflin was motivated to start a chapter in her hometown after making several trips to Raleigh to participate in the Moral marches led by the NAACP last year. Being white, she wouldn’t have guessed that she would be at the forefront of forming a local NAACP chapter.
“I always thought about it as being an organization that’s for and run by people of color,” she said.
But the issues today go well beyond the NAACP’s historic focus on racial equality. It has become a vehicle for a groundswell of new members who oppose the state’s treatment of public education, tax cuts for the wealthy, reduction in social benefits and environmental rollbacks witnessed under the new Republican administration in Raleigh.
McGlauflin said that to her, the NAACP is rooted in justice, and justice is the unifying theme of the Moral Movement, “to restore North Carolina to a place of justice for citizens, and not just for certain segments of the population with more resources, whether it is financial resources or political access,” she said.
McGlauflin traces her involvement to an epiphany she had in church one morning when her pastor at Saint David’s Episcopal Church in Cullowhee spoke these words.
“Some people, when they see people being thrown into the river, go in and pull them out. But if you see people who keep getting washed down the river, sometimes you have to go upstream and find out who is throwing them in and stop them,” McGlauflin recounted.
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