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Why The NAACP?

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Remarks by Hardy L. Brown, outgoing president of the San Bernardino NAACP, at the annual Pioneer Awards Dinner held at California State University, San Bernardino, December 14, 2002.

John 3: 1/3 tells the story of a man named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said in essence, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one could perform the miraculous signs you are performing if God were not with you.” In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth. No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." How can a man be born again when he is old? Was the question thrown back to Jesus regarding being born again? In other words, Why? Go through that again.
Many of you ask the same question of or about the NAACP. Why the NAACP? Why Now?

The Bible does not say why Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. The most obvious explanation is that he would have been embarrassed to be seen with Jesus, since the Lord had by no means been accepted by the majority of the Jewish people. Nicodemus knew that no one could perform the kind of miracles he had heard about, unless God sent him. He had to find out for himself.

Why the NAACP today? Like Nicodemus, many of you have seen the miracles performed by the NAACP, but you’re still ashamed to be associated with the “biggest and baddest” civil rights organization around.

• Perhaps you have heard that in 1909 in the City of New York people of color came together to organize the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to protect the civil rights of all people.

• In 1911 after a lynching in Coatsville, Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia NAACP began a campaign to have an anti lynching law passed.

• In 1919 John Shillady of the NAACP of Austin, Texas was beaten unconscious for seeking to have a meeting with the Attorney General.

• In 1920 the NAACP was successful in getting an anti lynching bill passed and signed into law.

• Perhaps you heard that in 1960, during Black History month, students from AT&T College in North Carolina – my home state - decided to conduct a sit in at an F&W Woolworth store. This started a movement to dismantle the Jim Crow signs across the entire south. It was the NAACP that established relief funds to bail students out of jail. It was Roy Wilkins of the NAACP that said, "these students are seeking to save what has been so precious about our America and what bids fair to be lost of our individual liberty and our readiness to fight for it in the face of the grossest manifestation of tyranny, in the teeth of massive state power.”

• Or maybe you heard of the shooting of Tyisha Miller in Riverside in December 1998 by four White officers who gave “high fives” to each other after the shooting. It was the San Bernardino and Riverside branches of the NAACP that were involved in the weekly protests that were conducted in the two counties after her death.

• Perhaps you heard of the Black voters disenfranchised in Florida during the last presidential election. It was the NAACP that conducted investigations into the many complaints that have brought about legislation to prevent such things from happening in the future.

• Or maybe you heard the remarks of Senator Trent Lott about taking us back to the good old days of segregation. The NAACP has been at the forefront of calling for Senator Lott’s resignation from his post as Senate Majority Leader.

If you don’t think the NAACP is needed, just ask the congregation of the 16th Street SDA Church in San Bernardino, Toyin Dawodu of T & S Investments in Grand Terrace, The Vines Society, Daisy Bates of Indio, and the Black employees of the cities of San Bernardino and Riverside.

Don’t be like Nicodemus and miss the opportunity to be reborn. Find out for yourself why you should support the efforts of the NAACP. It will continue to be here to carry the torch of freedom and justice, as long as crosses are still burning in cities across our country, they are still dragging us behind cars, they are still shooting our young, and they are still locking us up at a greater rate than everyone else. Do you want to walk away like Nicodemus and not receive the blessing of re-engaging to serve mankind, or do you want to receive the blessings of freedom and justice for all?

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