State NAACP leaders approve reactivation of Carroll County branch

Officers to be elected at June 10 meeting

May 21, 1999|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

After a 14-month effort to revitalize a local branch of the NAACP, Carroll County has earned an official sanction from state leaders of the organization.

Herbert H. Lindsey, state conference president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Wednesday that he has put in motion a process "that will result in the reactivation of the dormant branch into a vital community service."

"The executive committee of the Maryland State Conference has determined that the requirements have been met for revitalizing the Carroll County branch," Lindsey said. "I have gone ahead and ordered an election meeting."

He has notified NAACP members who live or work in Carroll of a meeting June 10 for the nomination and election of officers. The president and executive committee will be installed immediately, Lindsey said.

Lindsey chose the Westminster branch library for the meeting, saying he wanted "a neutral site" for the nominating session, one where the group has not met previously.

The Rev. James Hinton, pastor of Union Memorial Baptist Church in Westminster, where members have been meeting for months, said he agreed with the change in location.

"We needed a place other than the church, so nobody has an advantage during the election," he said. "But I expect the meetings will come back here."

The Rev. Cordell E. Hunter, first vice president of the state conference, will preside at the first official meeting in Carroll and oversee the nominating and voting procedures.

Candidates for office in the Carroll branch must be registered members for at least 30 days before the election and live or work in the county. To vote in the election, the same 30-day eligibility applies.

Hunter will work with the new branch for several months, Lindsey said.

Hinton welcomed the offer of help and news that the branch had become a reality. "We have a charter and we have been revived," he said yesterday. "It has been a struggle, but we made it."

The fledgling group began meeting at the Westminster church in March 1998, five years after the original branch's charter expired for lack of leadership. Organizers needed at least 100 members to begin anew. In a county with a minority population of less than 3 percent, membership built slowly.

"We have the numbers now," said Hinton. "We are way over 100."

In the 1980s, Carroll had a fairly active NAACP branch, with as many as 200 dues-paying members. The Rev. Mary D. Carter-Cross resurrected the group twice and continued to build the rolls during several years as its president. Although she had the numbers, only a small core of active participants worked on branch projects, she said.

Carter-Cross resigned in 1993 and has moved from the county. But, she said, she frequently receives calls from residents concerned with racial issues in Carroll.

Since the effort started last year, about 115 people have enrolled in the NAACP and paid annual dues, Hinton said. He said he is certain branch leadership will emerge from them.

"We have people now who are backing and supporting our branch," he said. "There are resources from state and national, too."

Membership cannot drop below 50 if the branch is to stay active, according to NAACP bylaws. Hinton said he does not expect numbers to dwindle.

"Because of activities both past and present, we need a branch here to speak out on issues that affect our community," Hinton said.

He noted as an example the school board's deletion of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday from the school calendar this year. The board quickly rescinded that action in the face of community pressure.

As Carroll County continues to grow, state NAACP officials have said it will need watchdog groups to ensure minority residents have fair access to services, education and jobs.

The meeting will be at 6: 30 p.m. June 10 at the Westminster library, 50 E. Main St. Information: 410- 747-0838.

Pub Date: 5/21/99

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