NAACP told to ‘reach out to others’

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 10, 2003

Speaking before a full house Sunday evening in Temple Beth-El, Jerrauld C. Jones asked his audience, &uot;What is our true mission?&uot; Then he answered: &uot;Reaching out to others as members of the NAACP.&uot;

The occasion for Jones’ rhetorical statement began in response to the theme of the 37th annual Freedom Fund Banquet – &uot;Taking the Challenge to the Next Level&uot; – of the Suffolk-Nansemond Branch of the NAACP.

Jones was appointed director of the Department of Juvenile Justice for the Commonwealth of Virginia on July 1, 2002. This agency supervises the incarceration, rehabilitation and transition of adjudicated juveniles in Virginia. Before this appointment, he was the 89th District Delegate to the General Assembly for 15 years. Since 1983, Jones has had a private practice in Norfolk.


Email newsletter signup

Although the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People &uot;has been in the forefront of every struggle for civil liberties,&uot; Jones said, &uot;Are we trying to rest on our laurels? What happened 40 years ago, 10 years ago, last year is not the same as what we face today.&uot;

The next step is a renewal of commitment – of time and resources &uot;because we cannot take the lives of others for granted. We can assume absolutely nothing,&uot; he said, stamping a foot a few times for emphasis.

In reference to the possibility of war against Iraq, Jones said &uot;there needs to be a declaration of war against poverty…. Social ills are of more concern.&uot;

Quoting the writer James Baldwin, &uot;The time is always now.&uot;

A movement, not a monument to the past, is required, Jones said, adding that &uot;The first battle must be fought ferociously for equal opportunity.&uot;

Citing recent news that the Hispanic population is now a larger minority than blacks, he said, &uot;The complexion of America will change drastically. America must come to terms with this, otherwise we’ll never become ‘one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all!&uot;

&uot;Economic power is our next civil rights frontier, explaining that while other people have established the rules of the game &uot;we have an obligation to play the game hard,&uot; Jones said.

After affirming affirmative action, he then chastised Supreme Court Justice Clarence O. Thomas and President George Bush for their open rejection of affirmative action, even though he believes they each have profited from it in their own way.

&uot;Freedom is not free…There is pain, but there is also great reward,&uot; Jones said.

He named the seven astronauts who died in the Columbia on Feb. 1, and noted how they remarked from space that they saw no borders on earth – &uot;a view that many of us ought to adopt.&uot;

&uot;I believe we can build together…we must be soldiers using our wisdom, experience and talents,&uot; Jones said.

Using an analogy from a speech made in 1966 by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Jones concluded saying that each person can &uot;send forth a tiny ripple of hope that builds into a current and sweeps down the mightiest walls of injustice and oppression.

&uot;We can do it. I truly believe it!&uot;

The audience responded with a standing ovation.

Earlier in the program, the following people received Certificates of Life Membership for their individual $500 contributions to the NAACP’s treasury: Wilmer Ross Boone, Harvey D. Bullock, Vermelle T. Byrd, Elizabeth P. Carter, Charles O. Christian, Helen Daughtrey, Mildred M. Freeman, Arthalia B. Kahan, Mark R. Outlaw, Vashti H. Savage, Marian E. Smith, Elaine Walters, Marvin Walters, and the Suffolk Chapter of Les Gemmes Inc. Elizabeth Christian and Little Mt. Zion Baptist Church were presented Silver Certificates for their gifts of $750.

Christian, who is the president of the Suffolk branch, was also given a Golden Life Certificate for his donation of $1,500.

The banquet was hosted by Cheryl Wilkerson. Doc Chrisian, Rodney Williams and King David’s Harp provided musical entertainment throughout the program.