In defense of the Fayette NAACP
Despite numerous false accusations lobbed at the NAACP in the media, this historic organization can only be accurately labeled as a true champion of equality, justice, diversity and inclusion.
In the early 1950s, the NAACP filed the landmark case known as Brown vs. The Board of Education and won. As a result, white and black children all over the South were required to attend the same schools like I did beginning in 1970 in Americus, Ga.
Wherever there is unlawful discrimination taking place, the NAACP has an obligation to first seek voluntary changes to eliminate discrimination which we did in Fayette County.
Several years ago, I personally appeared before the Fayette County Commission and asked them to voluntarily switch to district voting. The commissioners all looked at me as if I was crazy and promptly ignored my request and numerous other appeals for district voting.
Efforts to get district voting through the legislature were also thwarted.
So if there is no conspiracy to keep people of color off the county commission and school board, why vehemently resist changing to district voting?
It is a verifiable fact that historically to some degree or another, black people in America have systemically been wrongfully abused, used, discriminated against, neglected and exploited ever since we set foot on American soil.
Yet as Americans, we brave black folks are the ones who must constantly challenge America to live up to its promise of liberty and justice for all.
So with discrimination still being a constant reality more often than not, we find that people in control of Fayette County government have refused to voluntarily do anything to eliminate racial discrimination in Fayette County elections.
So what did you expect the NAACP to do? Did you expect the NAACP to continue to allow the votes of black residents to be diluted?
Did you really expect us to sit back and allow an all-white county commission and school board to continue making policy and decisions without any input from us?
Did you expect us to forgo seeking a court remedy that would give us the opportunity to elect the candidate of our choice?
If the federal judge orders a special election, you can thank all those Fayette County leaders who repeatedly dismissed the call to voluntarily change to district voting.
But thanks to the federal justice system and district voting, Fayette County now has a golden opportunity to finally embrace diversity and inclusion by bringing fairness to government and unity to our community.
As a very proud American citizen who served my country in the military for decades, I fully expect my vote for a county commission or school board candidate to count.
But with at-large voting, it has been proven that my vote and the votes of the black residents in north Fayette County are illegally diluted by a biased group of voters in other parts of the county who have statistically proven that they historically prefer any white candidate over a black candidate.
Thus, the Voting Rights Act and Judge Batten’s 81-page decision in favor of district voting gives me the expectation that we in north Fayette County will soon be able to elect the candidate of our choice, whether that candidate be black, white or otherwise.
Furthermore, shouldn’t there be people of color on the county commission and school board if we are to have diversity and inclusion in government? What is divisive about that?
And if our county leaders were color-blind, wouldn’t they be able to understand that district voting is the fairest way to elect county commissioners and school board members?
Honestly, I do not expect to get those who hate or attack the NAACP to agree with me. As a matter of fact, I full expect to be attacked, cursed and put down. Why?
Because there are a few hateful vocal minority of selfish people who really expect black people to be quiet and stay in our place.
Like vocal white supremacists of the Jim Crow era, they have no respect for the NAACP, outspoken civil rights activists and people of color in general because they expect blacks to be subservient, pay our taxes, cut our grass and be content to let white people make all of the decisions that affect us, our children and our communities.
But somewhere I heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tell Negroes to straighten up our backs because nobody can ride your back when you stand upright.
So call us uppity or upright if you will. That is the charge we have from that great black leader with an amazing dream.
As we approach the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, thousands of black Americans are reviving the spirit of activism that moved us to change things for the better.
Nevertheless, not all black people in Fayette County are willing to stand upright or associate with the NAACP because they may be too scared, apathetic or have been conditioned to not make waves or duped into conforming to the expectation that blacks should stay in our place and be subservient.
But the NAACP owes it to any person of color to show everybody that standing up for our civil rights is not only our duty and obligation, it is the only way we will ever gain the dignity and respect we deserve as real Americans.
So I call upon people of all races to join the NAACP as we fulfill Dr. King’s dream of loving everybody, even those who do not love us or what we do to make this world better.
So what can you expect from the NAACP in the future years to come? Expect the NAACP to continue bringing people of all races together to challenge racism wherever it exists.
The NAACP boldly aims to lovingly help those who are blind to racism because like many of our vocal NAACP-bashing citizens, they are blind to racism because they are not affected by it.
And because racism and discrimination has become so underhanded, sneaky and hidden in some cases, it’s us up to the NAACP to expose racism for all to see, because no else will. That’s what the NAACP has done for over 100 years.
What else can you expect? Expect that most blacks in Fayette County and those to come will try our very best to improve on what is already a great place to live and raise a family.
So, expect thousands of progressive blacks to migrate to Fayette County because we value the great education system here. We blacks have become very fond of getting a good education because education was once something that our enslaved ancestors were forbidden to get and maliciously deprived of, for centuries.
Most of all, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Fayette County soon becomes a county with a progressive majority/minority population. And I expect that district voting will allow white voters in a majority/majority district to elect the candidate of their choice, whether that candidate is black, white or otherwise.
John E. Jones
[Jones is the president of the Fayette County Branch of the NAACP. The local organization’s website is http://www.fcnaacp.org.]