BY JAMES HARPER
Members of the Volusia County-Daytona Beach NAACP were among more than 3,000 participants at the national organization’s 104th annual convention in Orlando from July 13-17.
This year’s convention theme “We Shall Not Be Moved’’ focused on the modern-day attempts to roll back the progress of the civil rights era and efforts to combat them.
Local president Cynthia Slater told the Daytona Times this week the convention was exciting and informative.
‘Much work to do’
“There is much work to do as it relates to working to fight for voter rights, affordable health care, ending the school to prison pipeline, ending gun violence, environmental justice and disaster recovery, equity in education, employment discrimination, marriage equality, veterans affairs, economic justice, criminal Justice, and, of course, the NAACP calling for an investigation into the violation of Trayvon’s civil rights,’’ Slater stated.
Slater said Zimmerman being found not guilty in the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin “speaks to the unfairness of the criminal justice system.”
“We must get these laws changed and we do that by getting out to vote, and removing those politicians who pass these laws from office. Our greatest voice is the ballot box,” she added.
Sharpton, Jackson speak
The civil rights organization is holding its national convention at the Orange County Convention Center, less than 20 miles from the city where Zimmerman was on trial in the murder of Martin.
NAACP Director of Communications Derek Turner said the organization didn’t anticipate the verdict taking place at the same time as the convention.
Among the speakers at the six-day convention were the Rev. Al Sharpton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King III and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Sharpton was called in last March to help nationalize a local Florida movement to put pressure on law enforcement officials to arrest and prosecute Zimmerman.
Benjamin Crump, one of the attorneys for Martin’s family, also spoke at the convention.
Jealous talks to Times
“The various civil rights 50-year anniversaries in 2013 “remind us how far we have come and how far we still have to go.
“As we honored the contributions of heroes like Medgar Evers, W.E.B. DuBois and Bayard Rustin, we also fought the new Jim Crow of mass incarceration and the old Jim Crow of voter suppression.
“We broke records for voter diversity, but faced new attacks on equal access to education, health care and economic opportunity,” Jealous continued.
Jealous said the convention gave NAACP activists a chance “to celebrate our victories and prepare for the year ahead. We have never been content to just memorialize past icons; we need to be the heroes of our present and future.’’
NAACP Vice Chairman Leon Russell noted, “The NAACP is still the most influential and relevant voice in the fight for social justice. Even after a banner year for the NAACP, we still face several challenges and we must continue to set the tone for a greater nation and push for civic engagement.’’
NAACP Florida State Conference President Adora Obi Nweze added, “While the future of voting rights and equal access to education hang in the balance, our national and state conferences must hold strong.
“This year’s convention is essential as we map out strategies to continue to fight attacks on our civil rights.
We will join with others across the country to protect rights most sacred in our democracy. As one nation, we shall not be moved.”