72nd annual N.C. NAACP Convention opens with religious emphasis

72nd annual N.C. NAACP Convention opens with  religious emphasis
October 15
00:00 2015

By Felecia Piggott-Long, Ph. D.

For The Chronicle

More than 250 supporters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) attended the Mass Meeting and Community Workshop Meeting of the 72nd annual N.C. NAACP Convention at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Winston-Salem on Thursday, Oct. 8.

This year’s theme was “Pursuing Liberty in the Face of Injustice.”

The Rev. Dr. Frederick Haynes III, senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, served as the opening convention speaker. Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, prison support chair and pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church, presided.

Haynes posed the question, “How do you think outside the box when the box is trying to tell you what to think?” Harking back to the work of James Baldwin called “The Fire Next Time,” Haynes frames a letter to the NAACP as did Baldwin to his nephew who is pregnant with possibility.

Baldwin desires that his nephew transcend the structures of white supremacy. Haynes also refers to “The Rebellion of Mrs. Rosa Parks,” who was a victim of identity theft because she was “reduced to a seamstress. We all know she was a rebel with a cause. She was the secretary of the State Board of the Alabama NAACP,” said Haynes. “… We have to make some waves. God sent us to North Carolina to make some waves. He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we could ever ask or think. We have to make some waves.”

Haynes symbolically tipped his hat to the Rev. Dr. William Barber II, president of the N.C. NAACP Branch, “for all of the work you are doing in North Carolina. You have no idea how much you inspire the members of the organization.” Also Haynes referred to the Rev. Dr. John Mendez as “The Prophet Without Peer.” In his address, Haynes celebrated the ancestors and current liberation workers.

Greetings came from several leaders in the congregation. Mendez, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, reminded the people that during the 350 years of struggle in this country, “We have not gone without resistance. The NAACP has been a part of that resistance. Today we continue that resistance under the leadership of one of the greatest leaders of our time – Dr. William Barber.”

Isaac Howard, president of the Winston-Salem Branch of the NAACP, welcomed all of the guests to the Twin City. Dominique Penny, president of the Youth/College Division of the N.C. NAACP, reminded the people that, “No one will save us but us, and we must continue to do this for our young people.”

Barber gave special thanks to Mendez and the members of Emmanuel Baptist Church for opening their doors for the convention.

“Emmanuel, your pastor has been to jail with me three times,” Barber said. “The first time we went to jail, I told him I was not going to jail without him. Mendez is crazy.” After peals of laughter, Barber announced that Mendez would win the Pastor of the Year Award at the Freedom Fund Banquet for his outstanding service.

Major Allen Joines reminded NAACP members of the Ethiopian proverb, “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.” He thanked the organization for helping to get rid of some of the negative politics in Raleigh.

Other greeters included Rena McNeil, state advisor of the Youth/College Division, N.C. NAACP; and Carolyn Q. Coleman, first vice president of the N.C. NAACP and a member of the national Board of Directors. Daphne Holmes-Johnson, Chair of the State Convention Planning Committee, N.C. NAACP, offered the convention highlights. Musical selections set the stage to welcome all of the guests. The Emmanuel Baptist Church Mass Choir opened the service with praise and worship, and the congregational hymn was “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Negro National Anthem.

The Liturgical Dancers of Emmanuel rocked the house with “Jesus Will Work it Out.” They jumped up from their seats in the sanctuary and surprised many in the congregation as they shouted down the aisles. The Emmanuel Mime Ministry performed to “Stand,” reminding NAACP members that after they have done all they can do, just stand.

Rev. Kojo Nantambu, REAP Chair, N.C. NAACP, offered the invocation, thanking God “for teaching us how to live according to his way. For showing us how to accommodate the needs of the poor and needy, the widows and the oppressed; for helping us to fight for the rights of everybody; for helping us to sustain the battle until we win. … For we are more than conquerors. We are the children of God.”

The Scripture came from Isaiah 10:1-4, a passage which offers a warning to leaders who “decree unrighteous decrees” or turn away from the needy, the poor and prey upon the widows. The prophet Isaiah admonishes the leaders who rob the fatherless children. He asks these leaders where will they run in the time of trouble? What will they do when the hand of the Almighty reaches for them?



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