Editorial: Conferences should lead attendees to work

Editorial: Conferences should lead attendees to work
October 15
00:00 2015

This past weekend was a busy time for several civil rights organizations. Two had their statewide conferences in Winston-Salem: the North Carolina Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.C. NAACP) and the North Carolina Chapter of the National Organization for Women (N.C. NOW). Then there was the Million Man March in Washington, D.C., which had the theme “Justice or Else.”

The N.C. NAACP, which had the theme “Pursuing Liberty in the Face of Injustice,” featured the Rev. Dr. William Barber II and numerous other prominent speakers. The N.C. NOW conference had as its theme, “Focusing on Women’s Power NOW.” It featured U.S. Rep. Alma Adams of the 12th District, which includes Winston-Salem. In fact, she also spoke at the N.C. NAACP conference.

The Million Man March, spearheaded by Minister Louis Farrakhan, featured speakers of note, also.

The speakers were good and conference-goers liked what they heard, but what happens now?

There is a lot of civil rights work to be done.

*Recent statistics are showing that women and children are getting poorer in Forsyth County. The N.C. General Assembly is passing laws that are helping women and children to become poorer in the state, namely the laws restricting food stamps and unemployment compensation for people who need more help, not more hindrances to help.

*The United States Congress doesn’t seem to want to fix the Voting Rights Act that was broken by the U.S. Supreme Court. Lawmakers can’t agree on a yearlong budget that helps people instead of hurt them.

And there are more issues.

How can conference-goers translate what they heard into action?

They can form partnerships to help people. Nonprofits are always looking for help in the form of volunteers and materials, not only in money.

Also, some of the most powerful forces Americans have regarding civil rights are our ability to petition and vote for lawmakers at all levels of government. If we didn’t know already, we are finding out that local governments’ actions can affect our lives maybe more so than other levels of government.

Take the local school board. This body decided to close schools because of a perceived threat, wreaking havoc in many African-American families when students were sent to other schools during the school year. Now, more students might be moved as part of a bond issue that could be on the ballot next year.

A position is open on the Forsyth County Board of Education. It must be filled by a Republican. This person won’t be on any public ballot. The school board has to fill it. That’s the law. Who will get the job? Will that person have African-American students at heart? Who will petition the board and attend board meetings to find out?

Conference attendees should take the time to learn about how government works to make sure government works for them, and then take action. It will take more than attending civil rights meetings and conferences to make things happen.

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