NAACP Reception

Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra shakes the hand of NAACP President of the State of Texas Gary Bledsoe after being introduced by local convention chair Taneika Moultrie during the kick off reception of the NAACP State Convention on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, at the Killeen Civic and Convention Center.

The Killeen chapter of the NAACP is not just the namesake of a historical organization, but a group of people actively trying to make a difference in the community.

The Rev. Sam Powell, the organization’s president, wants to make sure that people know that.

On Thursday night, he was at the ministers’ gathering at the Texas NAACP convention in Killeen. The conference features several guest speakers, workshops and luncheons, and brought people in from all over the state.

“It does wonders for this local chapter, it gives our local officers and members a chance to see what happens at the state level,” Powell said. “Because a lot people have not had the chance to go to our state conference…To bring this state conference here, we’re able to see at a higher level of what it means to do our job and to do it well.”

The convention also helps spread the word that the NAACP is a broad-focus organization. Along with racial injustice and human rights issues, the Killeen chapter wants to make sure they help those in north and east Killeen gain employment, and develop healthy habits.

The convention provides Powell’s NAACP chapter the opportunity to grow and expand. On Oct. 7, the NAACP kicked off the celebration early, as Central Texas Area Coordinator Phyllis Jones helped organize a health and wellness fair in downtown Killeen.

Volunteers were on hand providing basic health services such as blood pressure checks and STD testing, and presenters talked about healthful living habits.

Bringing help to the local NAACP branches that were affected by Hurricane Harvey is one of the focuses of the state convention. Port Arthur, Beaumont, Montgomery County, Houston and Corpus Christi are all among the chapters impacted.

Minnie Hill is the chairman of the 2018 NAACP state convention, which will be held in her home city of San Antonio. She’s been to “too many (state conventions) to count,” but was excited to go to one more before she gets to play host.

Though there’s a medley of topics that will be discussed during the convention, such as economic progress, healthy living and human trafficking, Hill said that she would like to see more focus placed on the impact environmental issues have on black neighborhoods. Many times, that gets put to the back burner, she said, but hazardous waste companies and emissions coming from industrial plants near those neighborhoods are a danger that can cause long-term harm.

“That’s not conducive to good health,” she said.

Gary Bledsoe is the president of the Texas NAACP chapter and is in Killeen again after coming to the city in March for the NAACP’s Freedom Fund Banquet. He called the Killeen chapter one of the best in the state, and attributed it to many of its members being a part of the military.

Bledsoe’s speech touched upon many areas Thursday night, as he talked about everything from increasing African-American home ownership, to the NFL national anthem protests to the federal ruling that said Texas must redistrict the boundaries for Texas House District 54.

The conference will continue Friday and Saturday. For the schedule, go to:

Conference workshops, plenary sessions and luncheons are being held on the Central Texas College campus. The Killeen Civic and Conference Center, 3601 S. W.S. Young Drive, will be the site of the Texas Heroes Banquet on Saturday, which begins at 7:30 p.m.

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