BY JAMES HARPER
Though the room was filled with mostly women, Black men were urged at the Florida State NAACP convention to “follow our women into the voting booth.”
Michael Eric Dyson, the author of “Why I Love Black Women’’ and 17 other books is a Georgetown College professor and MSNBC pundit.
He spoke to hundreds of NAACP members at their state convention Saturday in Daytona Beach.
“The key to our community is to treat our women right,” said Dyson, adding, “Where would we be today without them? Real men aren’t scared of real women.”
The room was filled with mostly women who welcomed his comments with applause and were energized not only by his comments, but by the words of encouragement from dozens of speakers during the three-day event at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort.
Remembering state’s dark past
Lizzie Robinson Jenkins, founder and CEO of The Real Rosewood Foundation, and a member of the NAACP, said she felt an obligation to be at this year’s convention.
“I’m a member to continue the legacy of the civil rights movement, and I’m here so we can go into our communities and continue educating people on the importance of voting,” said Jenkins.
The purpose of Jenkins’ Real Rosewood Foundations is to tell the story of a majority Black community in Levy County. Between January 1 and 8 in 1923, the town of Rosewood was invaded by a White posse and burned to the ground.
Reflecting on NAACP advances
Rosemary Christy, a delegate from Alachua County, said she was at the convention because she believed in the cause.
“All my life I have been taught to advocate for our race and ourselves – give back so others can make it. Our true voice is the right to vote. It is the equalizer,” said Christy.
Delegate Evelyn Foxx said it was important for her to attend the convention so she could take information back to tell others what she learned.
“I realize without the NAACP all the advances we have made as a people wouldn’t have happened without the NAACP,” said Foxx.
NAACP delegate Yvonne Hinson Rawls said she felt “our civil rights and freedom were under attack.’’
Rawl decided to become politically active. Never having run for office, she won a seat on the Gainesville City Commission this summer.
“I had to reengage myself when I saw what was happening to my own people,” said Rawls, who had relocated from Miami to Gainesville.
Linda Johnson, fifth vice president of the Florida NAACP and a resident of Palm Beach County, said the convention helped to mobilize her and others.
“They want to roll back the times to parallel the struggles of the ‘60s. We will be able to stop them. It will take all of us – preachers, pimps and players – not just NAACP members,” said Johnson.
Hot and angry
Dyson was asked to be the featured speaker at the Saturday luncheon mainly to help motivate the crowd.
The author said he could do something President Barack Obama can’t do.
“He’s cool. Some of us have to be hot and angry. That’s where I come. I get hot so he can be cool,” said Dyson as he began a diatribe against those who are against “his president.”
“Don’t be mad he did it the way you said it ought to be done,” said Dyson – most of his comments directed at people who were not in the grand ballroom at the Hilton.
“We have been hoodwinked and bamboozled. You’re working to keep some people in and keeping some people out. You are mad that I am who I am. You’re mad a person of color occupies the highest office in the land. We’re trying to vote and you trying to throw us the okey doke,” said Dyson, who is known for revving up a crowd.
“We understand what you are doing. We know voter fraud is not the real issue. Same ID was good enough to put George Bush back in office but not good enough to put Barack Obama back in office,” he continued. “This ain’t going to stop us.”
Romney criticized for ‘47 percent’ quote
Dyson told the crowd of about 300 that they know Florida has a history of trickery and chicanery when it comes to elections.
“They want to point shave down here – shave off a few Black and brown votes. We’ve got to keep on going like our lives depend upon it,” Dyson explained.
Dyson also was upset over comments Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made about supporters of Obama who Romney referred to as the 47 percent who will always vote for Obama because they are dependent on the government.
“Most people on welfare and Medicaid are not people of color,” said Dyson, who Romney implied were supporters of Obama.
“We came from people who struggled for the right to vote. This ain’t going to stop us,” he concluded.