For as long as I am able, I will work to further the cause of justice and equality for all of God’s children.Leroy Lloyd
RINCON — As long as injustice persists, so will 70-year-old Leroy Lloyd, the former president of the Effingham County branch of the NAACP.
Lloyd opted against seeking a third two-year term as NAACP president late last year.
“I have not decided what other areas I will give my attention,” Lloyd said. “However, retirement is not an option for me.”
Lloyd’s passion for civil rights was acquired at a young age. He served as vice president of the Anson County (N.C.) NAACP Youth Chapter in the early 1960s. The North Carolina native graduated from Livingstone College with a degree in business administration.
“For as long as I am able, I will work to further the cause of justice and equality for all of God’s children,” Lloyd said. “To borrow from one of my favorite Robert Frost poems: I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.”
Lloyd has many other interests. The Master Gardener is a member of Love One Another, a diverse coalition of Effingham County Christians who seek racial harmony. He also serves Guyton’s Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church as a deacon and adult Sunday school teacher.
In addition, he is part of a group that sings at area nursing homes.
“Now that I am not the president, I will continue to work with the NAACP as an advisor,” Lloyd said.
Advancing the cause of justice is more important to Lloyd than being NAACP president.
“I wanted someone else to have an opportunity to see if they could move things along in Effingham County better than I did,” he said.
Lloyd and his wife, Rachel, moved to Effingham County in 2010 to be near his daughters in Savannah. He spent the previous four decades in New Jersey.
It wasn’t long after Lloyd’s arrival that he ascended to his NAACP leadership role.
“When I came here, I was told that the NAACP had been a little bit dormant,” Lloyd said. “A couple of folks said, ‘We were hoping somebody would come or the Master would send somebody who could take it and run with it.’ I guess they found me.”
Lloyd wonders if his lack of Effingham County roots hindered his effectiveness.
“I’m a transplant,” he said. “I didn’t grow up here and I don’t know all the ins and outs. Some folks are happy with the status quo and I am not.
“I’m not happy with the status quo and I don’t mind pushing the buttons, but I wanted to give someone who has been around here much longer than I have to see if they can move things a little better. Maybe they know the political lay of the land better than I do.
“I really enjoyed what I was doing and I’m not angry with anybody. I just wanted to see if someone could move the needle a little further because, to be honest with you, a lot of things in this county need some attention. There are some changes that could be made.”
Lloyd thinks the county school system needs more black teachers and administrators.
“I know we have a good school system and I applaud it for the efforts it has put in to educate the children in the county,” he said. “I have seen the graduation rates for last year and I thought they were very good but, if you want to make the schools better, especially for the minority population, they have to be able to see more people like themselves in order to feel like the school system is effective for them.”
Lloyd also believes minorities warrant more representation on the county’s governing boards.
“We have to get more minorities interested in running and get the votes out there for them,” he said.
Lloyd hasn’t rejected the possibility of seeking public office.
“I’m not going to say no to that,” he said. “If that right opportunity presents itself ... Remember, retirement is not an option for me
“Anything I can do that would further the cause of justice, equality and freedom for the folks in Effingham County — I am prepared to do that.”
Lloyd believes Love One Another can be an effective change agent. It allows black and white citizens to build relationships and common purposes.
“Perhaps I can get something done there by trying a different approach,” he said. “Rather than being adversarial, it will be a different role from a different point of view. I think it will work.
“We are doing something all the time and we keep bringing people together. The more you chat with people you learn that you are more alike than different.”
Lloyd developed tremendous interpersonal skills through his 37 years of service with the New Jersey Department of Labor and a partime job in a grocery store.
“People ask me sometimes if I am a minister,” he said. “They say, ‘Boy, you need to be.’”
Lloyd has never been afraid to pursue his objectives. He and some fellow Livingstone students wanted to attend the 1963 March on Washington but acceded to the wishes of their advisors.
“I have always regretted that decision,” he said.
Lloyd attended a 1968 memorial service for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when fear of racial violence was prevalent.
Like King did until his last breath, Lloyd will continue forge ahead.
“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have,” Lloyd said, quoting American novelist, playwright and social critic James Baldwin. “I think that’s what we have today. I just abhor hate.
“It just doesn’t have a place.”