NAACP pushes need to vote

Published 9:48 pm Monday, October 22, 2012

Beaufort County NAACP branch President Bill Booth, J’Asia Norfleet, Marian Booth, Basheba Jordan and James Smallwood, vice president, attended the state NAACP conference in Raleigh last week. High-school students Norfleet and Jordan took part in youth workshops held by the Rev. Dr. William Barber, state NAACP president. (Submitted photo)

There’s an old saying: “If there ever was a time we needed to pray, we sure do need to pray now.”
There’s a new saying: “If we ever needed to vote … we sure do need to vote now.”
The first originated in African-American churches long ago. The second is a new slogan of the NAACP and a call to action.
“It wasn’t too many years ago that people of color weren’t allowed to experience voting,” said Bill Booth, president of the Beaufort County branch of the NAACP. “There were sacrifices made to make it possible. We should never forget that.”
It was one of the messages Booth took away from the NAACP state conference in Raleigh last weekend.
Booth and seven other members of Beaufort County’s branch attended workshops led by state NAACP President the Rev. Dr. William Barber and national President Benjamin Jealous as well as the Freedom Fund Awards Banquet, where delegates were energized by the message of continuing to move the nation forward — a motivational and political message at once, said Booth.
“I came away energized and with a better understanding of who I am within this organization,” said Chynna Bonner, the Beaufort County organization’s interim youth director and Southside High School guidance counselor. “I came away with a renewed urgency to help our students. Seeing all ages in the unity session — it was exactly that, a unity session. I came back and talked with the students who had gone and they were excited.”
J’Asia Norfleet, a junior at the school, was one of those students. For Norfleet, the conference represented her first foray into any political activity.
“I learned a lot. (Barber) made things clearer from what I had known before,” Norfleet said.
Gov. Bev Perdue also weighed in on the role of the NAACP throughout its history via a video played at Saturday night’s awards banquet.
“The NAACP has been pivotal in shaping the conscience of our nation,” said Gov. Bev Perdue in the video message. “Their commitment to social justice and civil rights for all is known worldwide and its members continue to pass our nation forward. Thank you for working to build a stronger North Carolina.”
Booth said from now until Election Day, NAACP forces will be getting the “need to vote now” message out to all of Beaufort County.
“We have the south side of the river, north side from Belhaven to Washington,” Booth said. “(We’re trying to) reach those individuals who have chosen for some reason not to vote. We’re focusing on getting those people in a position to vote through early voting.”
He also said it’s important that voters listen to the issues themselves rather than the spin doctors.
Booth has held the local NAACP presidency for four years, but he will not be putting his name in the hat for next Sunday’s NAACP local elections. He said a new leader, with new and fresh ideas, is what he hopes a new president will bring to the organization.
“Four years is a good time,” Booth explained. “I feel like we’ve accomplished a lot, and I’m willing to pass the baton on to someone else now. We’re encouraging members to come out and let their voices be heard.”
The Beaufort County branch’s next meeting, and elections, will be held at Westbrook Community Center in Washington at 5 p.m. Sunday.