Over the past 110 years, the NAACP has pursued its mission of ensuring education, social, political and economic equality of rights for all people and has pushed to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.
Local residents celebrated the 110th anniversary of the NAACP at Greater Peace Baptist Church in Killeen on Friday night.
While civil rights were the founding interest of the NAACP, the group’s focus has expanded.
The NAACP was founded Feb. 12, 1909, and has since grown to 245,000 members. The Killeen branch, which was founded in July 1970, now has 213 members, according to President TaNeika Driver-Moultrie.
“We were founded in the civil rights era, but we have gone through a transition in the last several years,” Driver-Moultrie said. “Now, we’re focused on education, criminal justice and youth engagement.”
The NAACP has broadened its focus to six “game changers” from education, to financial education and voting rights, Driver-Moultrie said, and encourages local branches to focus on the needs of their community.
“The two that we are really focused on are education and economic empowerment,” Driver-Moultrie said. “Which encompasses financial literacy, housing, as well as labor in industry.”
The Killeen NAACP chapter will award six $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors at the 46th annual Freedom Fund Banquet to be held later this yea, she said.
“We are also getting ready to go on our college tour,” Driver-Moultrie said. “We take high school students on a college tour. We’re headed to The University of Alabama in Montgomery and Tuskegee University as well.”
The college tour is scheduled for March 8-10.
The Killeen branch also focuses on voter rights, education and empowerment, she said.
“Voting rights is the biggest hurdle we face, not just in Texas, but throughout the nation,” Driver-Moultrie said. “Making sure we’re engaged, and people are exercising their right to vote, making sure people are being registered to vote and being involved in the political process — not just during the presidential elections, but as a regular behavior.”
The NAACP local branch also promotes financial enrichment through financial literacy, encouraging home ownership and small business entrepreneurs, Driver-Moultrie said.
Four African American local business owners attended the celebration; event planner Detra Davis, artist Aleisha Tunstell, financial planner Ron Jupiter and income tax preparer Roslyn Banks.
The history of the NAACP was followed by a call to action, with a variety of ways local residents could get involved, including visiting the Texas Legislative Black Caucus and District 54 state Rep. Brad Buckley, R-Salado, in Austin on Feb. 25.
Buckely was at the event Friday, where the local group made him a lifetime member. He said he supports NAACP goals.
The 47 attendees of the celebration joined in chorus singing, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” before an address from Jermahl Coleman, a 15-year-old musician and aspiring architect from Harker Heights.
Coleman gave his speech about what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. might think on the “Take a Knee Protest” begun by professional football quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“I am proud and honored to be part of an organization that has withstood time,” Driver-Moultrie said. “We are here for those whose rights have been violated — for those who are racially discriminated against. It is an honor to say that I am a part of that organization.”