Coweta NAACP to host state president
by Sarah Fay Campbell
The president of the Georgia state branch of the NAACP, Dr. Francys Johnson, will be in Coweta County on Tuesday for the monthly meeting of the Coweta branch of NAACP.
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at St. Smyrna Baptist Church, 68 Heery Road. The group meets the third Tuesday of each month.
The organization’s new website – www.cowetanaacp.org – will go live Tuesday as well, said Interim Branch President Tamarkus Cook.
The local branch has gone through several leadership changes over the past several years, but Cook is looking forward to a revitalized organization.
“The interim period is really to get the organization back healthy and back strong,” he said.
“I think we’ve got a very good group of leaders now,” he said. In mid-March, the organization held its first membership drive at a dessert mixer.
Newnan Police Chief Douglas “Buster” Meadows was on hand, as were Newnan City Councilman Bob Coggin, Daryle Smith of the Newnan Boys and Girls Club, and about 70 other community members.
It may be called the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People but “it’s not about people of color in terms of African-American or Hispanic. These kinds of initiatives go beyond race,” Cook said.
“Even on the national level, I think the NAACP is trying their best to rebrand as an organization for everyone,” he said.
“That is one of the things we talked about at the mixer and one of the things that we are going to talk about this Tuesday. The organization is for everyone. You don’t have to be African-American to be part of the NAACP,” Cook said.
Cook hopes that people who are curious about the NAACP will attend Tuesday and “hear what is going on at the state and national level.”
Cook said that one of the hurdles for the NAACP on the local level is “trying to overcome the face-value perception of the organization. I think many people perceive the NAACP as a meddlesome, primarily Democratic-biased organization,” Cook said. “That is not our focus.”
“I think you’ve got a group of leaders who are more progressive thinking at the local level. And that progressiveness allows us to embrace that the organization is relevant at all times and not just when we think or feel that there is discrimination,” Cook said.
“Certainly that is a part of the organization, to protect all people from discrimination,” he said. But it’s more than that. “Even without the recent shootings, you spend a day in the juvenile court system and you see that there are children of all races and ages who are constantly in trouble … there is always a need for organizations to have a presence.”
“So part of my platform in this interim period is to be proactive.”
Last week, during spring break, the NAACP sponsored a three-state college tour for high school students.
“We had 40 kids go to that. So it’s about being proactive and not so reactionary. When you talk about being reactive and just stepping up when things happen — there is nothing you can do” to undo those things that have already happened.
Last month’s event was more than just a mixer and membership drive.
It was a time to talk about “our goals for this year,” Cook said. One of the biggest programs the branch hopes to start is the “village initiative,” which is focused on helping children and their parents simultaneously.
“Strong parents make stronger children. Stronger children make stronger adults. And strong adults make strong communities,” Cook said.
They want to particularly focus on young fathers.
“Young fathers are absent for whatever reason. It is our goal not to criticize them, not to bash them or continue to put them down, because that is what we have done,” Cook said. Instead, the idea is to “basically inspire them to do better, it is to motivate them and encourage them to be better dads.”
“We’re not trying to pay bills, we’re not trying to buy cars,” Cook said. “We’re trying to connect the young fathers with other fathers who can show them how to be fathers.”
Many young fathers didn’t have a father around when they were growing up. “If someone has never grown up with a father, how do they know how to be a father?” Cook asked.
One of the first projects will be a community garden for fathers and their children on the grounds at St. Smyrna.
Working in the garden is not only a way for fathers and children to bond, but “it shows children and their fathers the value of hard work. Because at some point they will see, literally, the fruit of their labor,” Cook said.