The Times West Virginian

Local News

February 17, 2014

Marion NAACP is there for all

FAIRMONT — Martin Luther once said, “Injustice is a threat to justice everywhere.”

The Marion County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, known as the NAACP, works within the community to help others in situations in which there is injustice. They receive complaints from people experiencing injustices, including discrimination, racism and other unfair treatment in their lives, and work to correct the problem.

Members have gone to courtrooms just to have their presence known, worked with police, interviewed employers and filed formal complaints with organizations on others’ behalf. Their mission is to ensure the political, educational and social equality of the lives of all people, said Vice President Priscilla A. Steed. The NAACP got its start in 1909 as a black civil rights organization that worked to eliminate racial discrimination, but it has since grown into a group that fights for the advancement of all people.

Members of the NAACP also work with officials in the community to help bridge the gap between them and those they serve, Steed said.

“The battleground has changed, but the organization’s name hasn’t changed to reflect the fact that it’s no longer just about blacks. It never was only just about that,” said NAACP president Robert Buckner.

“There are some folks (who) don’t have the right impression about the organization. In actual fact, the organization is for everybody’s good because injustice is injustice. The earlier you catch it, the easier it is to turn it around.”

Buckner estimates there are 30 registered members with the Marion County NAACP. However, 10-12 members are active with the group. The organization, like its work, is open to everyone. Members range from young adults just out of high school to retired senior citizens, blue-collar workers, school teachers, church representatives, businessmen and businesswomen, and everyone in between. They are of different races, social backgrounds and education.

“We’re just open to anyone (who) has a mind to serve,” said Steed. “You don’t have to be a college graduate or work the best job in town, but you do have to care about your community. You do have to want to see change come about for everyone.”

Members hold two major events for the community they serve. Their most recent was their annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at the Morning Star Baptist Church in Fairmont Jan. 19. They invited Tiffany Samuels, executive director of the Marion County United Way, to attend as their keynote speaker to make the public aware of what their community needs, Buckner said.

“We bring this into the community because we feel that as a whole Dr. King campaigned for human rights,” Steed explained. “That’s human rights for everyone.”

In the fall, the NAACP hosts a banquet at Westchester Village that serves as the organization’s largest fundraiser. The event consists of dinner and a speaker who is prominent in the community for working with civil rights or who has overcome adversity to gain success.

“We’ve tried to have something really significant for the community where they can learn something and grow from it,” said Buckner. Even in a town as small as Fairmont, civil rights organizations like the NAACP have a place in the community to help it grow and learn to be more inclusive and accepting of one another.

People’s civil rights are still being affected in a small town, and they need someone to hear their concerns, Steed said.

“Within the community, alone we can do so very little,” Steed said. “But if we band together, we can acheive so much more. That’s really what this is about — us coming together as a community and doing the very best to work together for one common good.”

For more information about the Marion County NAACP, visit its Facebook page or call 304-376-7379. Meetings are also open to the public and are held the third Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at the Morning Star Baptist Church.

Email Chelsi Baker at cbaker@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @cbakerTWV.

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