By Barney Blakeney
The South Carolina State NAACP Conference of Branches will hold its 77th annual Convention at the Marriott Hotel, 4770 Goer Dr. in North Charleston October 11-14. Keynote speaker for the Friday, October 12 Membership and Faith Awards Luncheon will be National NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson.
S.C. NAACP State Conference President Brenda C. Murphy said the event continues to be a primary source of information and training in the methods of effective nonviolent advocacy for grassroots leaders and volunteers. The four-day convention includes sessions covering current topics and sessions led by captivating presenters and speakers. Among its focuses will be education and healthcare. However, the national and statewide political climate mandates the conference’s focus as well, she said.
“This is a critical year and we must work to guarantee a significant turnout. Remember, ‘Defeat Hate – Vote’, to overcome the challenges we now face. The most important work that we must do at this point is to continue to educate and mobilize registered voters for the mid-term election to ensure maximum participation,” Murphy said.
Looking forward to the 2020 census, Murphy said, “We must develop a strategic plan for the 2020 census to safeguard the accounting of all citizens in our communities to ensure there are no discrepancies. An accurate census will facilitate opportunities for equitable political representation and state/federal funding. Without the election of representatives sensitive to our needs, equality and justice for all will remain a challenge.”
Noting the convention’s theme – ‘Advocating for Education to Promote Economic Sustainability’ – she said, “We must continue the battle for equity in education in South Carolina. Education is a critical component for the success of our children. We must do all that we can to curtail the “school to jail pipeline” that exists. Therefore, education must remain a high priority. We must stay on course.”
Another focus near and dear to her is the effort to provide healthcare to military veterans after they leave active service. A 4 p.m. October 11 session will focus on assistance to veterans as they re-enter their communities and transition back to civilian life facing challenges with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the criminal justice system.
Murphy made note of Thursday’s 7 p.m. Community Mass Meeting at Canaan Missionary Baptist Church, 4441 Durant Ave. which will be open to the public and does not require registration to attend.
North Charleston Police Chief Reggie Burgess 5 p.m. Friday will participate along with representatives of the Charleston Area Criminal Justice Ministry in a panel discussion on Community Policing. Earlier, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott will make an 11 a.m. Friday presentation about Community Outreach Programs.
Saturday’s line-up includes a Civic Engagement session for youth and young adults about Redistricting and the Youth Leadership Awards Luncheon and later, a session on Financial Planning and Career Strategies.
The convention’s highlight event, the Freedom Awards Banquet and Celebration, will be 7:30 p.m. featuring keynote speaker Rev. Nelson B. Rivers, III, pastor of Charity Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston.