February 19, 2006
It was a special day for the local branch of the NAACP today. The civil rights organization celebrated Founder's Day on Sunday with music, singing, and poetry. Local organizers praised the NAACP's accomplishments, but said more work lies ahead.
The organization was founded nationally almost a century ago in 1909. Organizers of Sunday's Founder's Day celebration say the nation's oldest civil rights organization has changed America's history.
"We have a lot to be thankful of," said Dr. M. Rick Turner, the president of the local NAACP chapter. "If it wasn't for the founders, we wouldn't be as free."
For that reason the Charlottesville community celebrated. Sunday's key speaker says understanding the history of African-Americans is one of the most important lessons.
"You cannot let people start black history with slavery, because that begins on the negative. But our history started in Africa," said Rev. Dr. Roger J. Ford, of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church.
While the NAACP has accomplished so much in it's long history, local leaders of the African-American community say there is still work to be done.
"By no means is the struggle over. But we have come a long way because of the dedication of courageous men and women," said Turner.
Speakers said African-Americans will need similar courageous men and women in the future.
"It seems to me that the younger generations don't care for organizations anymore. But where there's unity, there's strength," said Ford.
Turner says the next generation must attend events like Sunday's.
"It's extremely important for young children, who are our future leaders, to be here today and to experience what their ancestors have done to make it possible that they are here and they are safe," said Turner.
The local branch, the Charlottesville-Albemarle NAACP was founded in the 1950s.
For more on the history of the NAACP, please visit www.naacp.org