SPRINGFIELD — Five decades after taking its first step, the Effingham County branch of the NAACP is still marching forward in its quest for political, educational, social and economic equality for all citizens.
The Effingham County NAACP formed on Oct. 19, 1968.
“We are going to do different programs throughout the year to celebrate the 50th anniversary,” original member Lucy Powell, 71, said. “On September 8, we will be doing the big Jubilee Gala. This is when we celebrate the NAACP charter being given to Effingham County.”
Plans for the gala are still ongoing. One potential location is the old Springfield Central High School gymnasium. Central used to be a school for black students in Effingham County.
“We feel like it would be a good place to tie all the memories together,” Powell said.
Powell’s recollection of the struggles of the Civil Rights Era when the Effingham County NAACP was born remain strong, especially regarding the desegregation of schools.
“There were just things that, through the help of the NAACP and the Effingham Board of Education, we were able to work out,” Powell said. “There were some incidents when the NAACP felt the need to step out. One of the issues was getting the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday declared as a holiday.
“We had to do a boycott of the schools.”
Although the fiery passion for fairness remains strong in the Effingham County NAACP, Powell is concerned that it is flickering among the younger generation. She vividly recalls the joy of walking down the streets of Springfield in the first Martin Luther King Day Parade more than 30 years ago.
“That was one of the happy events,” Powell said. “It was a rainy day but we marched. The people who celebrated in that era are no longer able to march and the young people don’t see the excitement or joy in it.”
The Effingham County NAACP, led by President Leroy Lloyd is looking to inject some youth into its ranks.
“He is so involved, so interested, so eager to do whatever it takes to keep this organization going,” Powell said.
The Effingham County NAACP has a rich history of noble civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Thomas J. Kent, Homer L. Wallace, Marion Housey Jr., Samuel Smalls, Louis Harden and Benjamin Eason.
“Their families still support the NAACP very well,” Powell said.
The Effingham County NAACP will raises its profile in the coming weeks.
On March 25, it recognize its female members through its WIN (Women in the NAACP) program. The event will occur at Union Springs Indepdendent Methodist Church.
“Next month is Women’s History Month, so we are going to salute women — local and national,” Powell said.
On Feb. 24, the Effingham County NAACP will conduct a wreath-laying ceremony in tribute to African-Americans who drowned at Ebenezer Creek while trying to elude Confederate troops in 1865.
To learn more about the Effingham County NAACP, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 732-604-1204.