State pres urges NAACP members to be game changers
by Sarah Fay Campbell
Georgia State NAACP President the Rev. Dr. Francys Johnson gave a rousing address at Tuesday’s meeting of the Coweta branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The local branch is reorganizing, and is currently in an “interim period” with officers appointed by Johnson. Hopes are to have the branch ready to have officer elections in November.
Newnan City Councilmen Bob Coggin and George Alexander were on hand to present a proclamation recognizing the NAACP, which is celebrating its 105th anniversary, and the Coweta branch and declaring April 14, 2014, as NAACP Day in Newnan.
The meeting was held at St. Smyrna Baptist Church, drawing approximately 30 people. The Coweta branch meets the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.
Johnson urged those in attendance to work to “change the game.”
The NAACP is the “most loved and most hated, the most cussed and discussed” civil rights organization in the United States, Johnson said.
It was formed in 1909 to address the problems of lynching and “Jim Crow” discrimination.
“I greet you tonight on behalf of all those who endured the poll taxes and literacy tests and the crosses burning in their yards and strange fruit hanging on their trees and bodies floating down their rivers.”
Sometimes, people “urge me to forget about that, to not discuss it. But that is as much a part of American history as the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Battle of Gettysburg,” he said.
“My message to these people tonight is that if we’re ever going to move forward as a country, then we must look at what brings us together, as opposed to what separates us.”
However, “if you are going to do the work of building a stronger, more beloved community, then you will have to confront race and you will have to confront racism.”
“[The NAACP] is not a fraternity or a sorority or a social club. This is a civil or human rights organization that uses the legal process of redress as its primary tool.”
The NAACP also uses advocacy and community building techniques, but “we do not mind filing lawsuits where we must. We also don’t mind making friends where we can. We have no permanent friends nor permanent enemies. We just have common permanent issues.”
Those include having communities that are safe to live in, good education for children, a criminal justice system that treats everybody equally, an economy where the middle class can thrive again.
“Now those aren’t black ideas, those aren’t divisive. Those aren't ideas of which people should be afraid,” Johnson said.
“People of goodwill come in every hue,” he said. “As long as they believe in those principles, then guess what? They should be friends of the NAACP and the NAACP should be friends to them.”
The NAACP isn’t an organization that represents black people. “It represents people of goodwill in this community who believe that America’s best days are ahead, that as a country we have got promises to keep."
"Racism matters, but people matter more,” Johnson said.