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Charles County NAACP celebrates 75 years

naacp 75th anniversary

Sherrie Bailey, associate judge, Baltimore County Circuit Court, 3rd Judicial Circuit, was the keynote speaker at the Charles County NAACP 75th Anniversary March 26.

La Plata, MD - As the Charles County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) celebrated its 75th anniversary in La Plata Sunday, March 26, it became evident that while people of color in Southern Maryland have come a long way, scars still linger.

When Maryland Senator Mac Middleton announced Senate funding of $900,000 for the purchase and preservation of land near La Plata where Josiah Henson was enslaved before escaping to freedom, whose life’s story many believe was the inspiration for Harriet Beecher-Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, that brought a rebuke from the back of the room by NAACP member Arthur Ellis.

“We don’t need that money for Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” Ellis shouted. “We need that money for our youth programs and we’re saddled with this.”

It brought to light a dilemma for a people struggling with recognizing and preserving their important history while balancing such efforts with modern challenges.

Sherrie Bailey, associate judge, Baltimore County Circuit Court, 3rd Judicial Circuit, said that when her family moved to Charles County in 1966, it was a much different place.

“There was nothing here,” the Lackey graduate recalled. “There was woods and fields and Zekiah Swamp, but my father loved it. He said it felt like home. It soon felt like home to all of us.”

Bailey said her message to the local chapter of the NAACP is the same she has maintained in her life.

“Ever grateful, ever vigilant,” she said. “Our job is still before us. We did overcome. We can overcome and we will overcome.”

“It was the NAACP that helped shape our views,” noted Winston Wilkerson from Gov. Larry Hogan’s office.

Honors were bestowed upon longtime NAACP members Delores Brooks, Harry Coates, Herbert Howard, Agnes Rosetta Johnson, Dorothy Bush, Doris Lyles, Joseph Countiss, Dorothy Tate Brooks, Violet Simmons and Wanda Wells Woodland.

As Charles County NAACP President Janice Wilson noted the need for younger members in the local chapter, those older members must have been heartened by the words of NAACP Youth’s Kyle Smith, who made the old folks proud.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said that life’s most persistent question is, ‘what are you going to do for others?’ This will be a challenge for the new and upcoming generation,” Smith said. “Students today are engaged, active and vocal.” 

That statement, along with a stirring rendition of the Neville Brothers’ classic Long Time Coming by Jana Proctor, should give the organization hope that the future holds promise for those who have endured the past.

Contact Joseph Norris at joe.norris@thebaynet.com

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