A message for everyone

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Understandably, anyone speaking at an NAACP gathering is going to tailor remarks that especially pertinent to its members. But what the Rev. Jerome Ross of Providence Baptist Church in Richmond had to say Sunday could easily have been talking to any other organization.

The pastor was the guest speaker at the Nansemond-Suffolk Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s 38th annual Freedom Fund Banquet. Early in his speech he cited weaknesses in the organization that he said persist to this day. In that case, the NAACP still fails to communicate to a larger population, deal with centralization issues, growing conservatism, finances, conflicts within the membership, and salary schedules and the like.

&uot;We don’t address one another. We don’t hear one another, and we refuse to help one another,&uot; he said.


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Is there any other national, state or regional organization or minority group that in one way or another has not been plagued with such woes?

What to do? &uot;’We must meet one another in genuine exchange,’&uot; Ross was quoting that evening from the 20th-century philosopher Martin Buber’s &uot;I and Thou.&uot;

By clear and concise, sincere and considerate listening and speaking to one another, the mis- in miscommunication can be dropped. Then goals can be established and achieved.

Further, Ross pointed out how interdependent people really are one another. The achievements made by the NAACP, for example, are built on what the group did decades ago. A debt is owed and must be paid.

&uot;We mold each other’s character for better or for worse…we need each other. No man is an island. No woman stands alone,&uot; he said, which led to his observation that &uot;everybody owes somebody. &uot;You never finish paying the debt. You pay with your life,&uot; Ross said.

Those are words that everyone, regardless of race, creed, color, sexual, or political background can take to heart and practice.