Local NAACP reaching out, bolstering its membership

Posted: July 1, 2013

The Winchester Star

Joyce Morrison of the local NAACP chapter renews Frank Washington’s membership at a membership drive on Saturday in Jim Barnett Park. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — Local NAACP leaders welcomed new members and area residents interested in the organization at a membership drive picnic Saturday afternoon in Jim Barnett Park.

Alvin Walker, a Frederick County resident and membership chairman for Winchester chapter 7127 of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the group uses membership events to let people know what the NAACP does.

“We’ve found that a lot of people now under the age of 30 don’t really know what the NAACP is,” said Walker, 56. “So we really try to enlighten them [as to] what we are, what’s our purpose, things like that.”

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, according to the group’s website.

Before Saturday’s event, the local NAACP chapter had about 55 members, and Walker hopes to add an additional 100 by year’s end. Walker’s wife, Gwen, 60, is the chapter president. She estimated that 10 to 15 people joined the chapter in the first hour of the picnic.

She said the group is working on several initiatives — such as encouraging area residents to register to vote and reaching out to the Hispanic community.

The recent repeal of certain parts of the Voting Rights Act possibly could impact the local community, she added.

“But what we’re going to do is be stronger in getting people registered and out to vote and understand [the importance of voting],” she said.

“I think the education part is the most important thing.”

Winchester resident Ethel Doherty, 83, has been involved with the local chapter for many years and is the chairwoman of its political action committee.

“The NAACP works very hard for justice for everybody,” she said. “This chapter is the place to go for people who have grievances where some kind of injustice has happened.”

Deirdre Cochran of Winchester joined the NAACP on Saturday and was already a member of the local Coalition for Racial Unity.

“I thought it would be a good idea to support another good organization that helps a group of citizens in Winchester that could use some help,” she said.

Alvin Walker also stressed the important role the NAACP can play in helping people dealing with adversity.

“A lot of people have a lot of issues and it seems like there’s never a recourse for them to go to somebody to get insight and get help or get guidance,” he said.

“And that’s what we’d like to think that we are. We’re a place they can come to get insight and guidance and support.”

Additional information on the local NAACP chapter is available by calling 540-327-1104. The chapter will hold its annual Freedom Fund Banquet Sept. 14.

— Contact Matt Armstrong at marmstrong@winchesterstar.com