January marks the beginning of TaNeika Driver’s second two-year term as president of the Killeen Branch NAACP. Driver was first elected in 2011. She sat down with the Herald to talk about the organization’s goals.
What do you feel you accomplished during your first term?
There were two important things that I feel the team — I always say the team, because it is not just me — accomplished during my first term. One of the things we accomplished was being accepted by the community. And the second was forming positive partnerships in the community. Part two of that is our theme, which is “Wake up, everybody!” That theme will continue throughout 2013. We at the NAACP want to instill more love and unity within our community. This should not just be a goal for the NAACP, but we want it to be a goal of the entire Killeen-Fort Hood community.
What do you mean when you say the NAACP was accepted by the community during your first term?
The NAACP, of course, stands for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. We wanted people to know that “colored” doesn’t only refer to black people, but to a wide array of races, groups, individuals. We are here to fight for equal rights for all. We support all. We work for all. Our student scholarships are open to any student who has the urge and desire to further their educational goals. If a white person is being discriminated against because they are white, we are here to help them.
You are very educated about the history of black-owned businesses in the area. How do you use your position to share that knowledge?
In the month of February, in honor of Black History Month, we will be recognizing some of our torch bearers in the form of honoring our black business leaders and educational leaders who paved the way for us. The African-American community has had the opportunity to come into this community and set the goal of becoming black business owners, and most have been successful in doing so. Individuals such as former (Killeen) Mayor (Timothy) Hancock, Dr. Chinn, who opened the first black dental office and Babatunde, who ran an African-American bookstore. We want to show our young people they can achieve anything if they put the effort into it.
How important is it for minority-owned businesses to be a major part of the local business landscape?
I think it is very important. All people, regardless of race or gender, deserve the opportunity to pursue the American dream. Everyone deserves a chance. Some of us get complacent and continue to go to the same place all the time. That happens to all of us. We need to afford new businesses the chance to be successful, and that includes African-American-owned small businesses. We all need to be more open-minded about embracing our entrepreneurs no matter what their ethnicity is. It’s all about economic growth.
What is a hot-button issue that is especially important to you?
The NAACP and LULAC worked tirelessly to get this city to become single-member districts in order to have a diverse (Killeen) City Council. Now it’s back on the agenda to do away with single-member districts. I have been told the rationale is some community members were discouraged they were not able to vote for every candidate on the ballot. However, I believe the reason for doing away with single-member districts is why this last recall was so successful. It is a way of getting certain individuals to serve on the council. My thing is, we voted to have single-member districts. If it is not broken, why fix it?
Contact Mason Lerner at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7567