SCIOTO — Last year’s acts of racial violence avoided Scioto County, but its impact was still felt on many residents. In May, the death of George Floyd led to a peaceful march in Portsmouth calling for unity between police and the community.
Now almost 10 months later, further action is starting to take form through local organizers. The gravity of those moments were motivating factors in the rechartering of the Scioto County Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
During its meeting Monday night, held at the 14th Street Community Center, Ross County NAACP President Adrienne D’Souza swore-in the six members to the executive board.
“I am so glad that your chapter was able to reorganize,” she said, serving in that role for the last 19 years. “Every city, every county needs to have a NAACP. It’s important for you to have representation, it’s important that you align yourself with the city leaders of Portsmouth, the county commissioners, and that you make your presence known.”
Already, vice president Jeanette Langford said the local chapter consists of 70 to 75 members and is supporting the formation of multiple committees to ensure an active organization.
Langford said the county’s chapter has been inactive since 2008 as the need to be involved in the community was not made clear until recently. Dating back to at least 1964, Scioto NAACP played a major role in the end of Jim Crow in Portsmouth by protesting the segregation of the city’s Terrace Club.
“When some of the issues across the country started to take place, like the police violence and killings, those things started to weigh heavy on our hearts,” she said, the conversations of reactivating beginning in July. “The community came together to talk about those particular things and I guess it was just meant to be with the thought of reactivating.”
Not happening in the area, responding and preparing for instances like these were at the benchmark of the rechartered chapter. Langford also said showing solidarity and empathy for those directly impacted by racial violence and outright discrimination such as disenfranchisement is essential.
“If we all aren’t safe and treated equally and we all aren’t living a better life, then no one is,” she said.
President Andre Sappington said he felt tensions, although not violent, rise during the presidential election here in Scioto. Feeling at odds with some in the county, he said the chapter will look to share the experience of people of color in the area.
“Our job is to say ‘Hey, we’re here and if those issues do arise then we’re here to say we won’t stand for it,” he said. “We love Scioto County, and we want to make sure that we are able to care of these issues on the forefront.”
Sappington also said recent action in Portsmouth City Council, referring to attempts to pass anti-discrimination legislation, was well-intentioned but needing more substance.
“In my experience, resolutions do not carry weight. They are not laws,” he said. “A resolution is just a piece of paper that says we don’t stand behind it. If there are no consequences behind it, then I just think it’s a waste of time.”
Still working to identify its goals in the community through a strategic action plan, Scioto NAACP plans on building an active digital presence through Facebook and a website.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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