Leeds is now home to a new branch unit of the NAACP following an installation of officers ceremony held on Saturday in Moton Park.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People granted Leeds its own unit once the community reached a benchmark in membership. Currently, Leeds Branch Unit 50AA has 128 members.

Many of those members were on hand for the installation of the unit and its officers on Saturday. The installation was performed by Jerry Barnett, Alabama State NAACP Third Vice President and Alabama Conference NAACP Housing Committee Chairperson. Dr. Carl Marbury of Leeds served as the master of ceremony and Dan Marbury provided the introduction of state officials and members.

Two groups were involved in the installation. There was a group of officers as well as executive board members.

Those who will serve as executive board members will be Essie Brooks, Gary Clark, Kathy Dozier, Mattye Grier, Carolyn Hall, Frederick Jones, Carl Marbury, Dan Marbury, Marie McDaniel, Rev. Earnest Mitchell, Rev. Gregory Moore, John Saddler, Shelida Swain, and Dewayne Taylor.

Sworn in to lead the branch unit were officers: Fannie Burt – president; Allen Lewis – first vice-president; Rev. Ronald Hunter – second vice-president; Shirley Rayford – third vice-president; Fernessa McConico – secretary; Denise McDaniel – assistant secretary; Robbie Anderson – treasurer; and Louise Strickland – assistant treasurer.

Burt said there has been an ongoing membership drive to allow for a Leeds NAACP unit.

“We feel like there are a lot of things we can do to help people in our community,” Burt said. “We are still seeking members and that will be a continuing process for the unit.”

Membership to the NAACP is $30 per month. Prior to the establishment of the Leeds unit, local members would of had to drive to Birmingham for meetings.

The mission of the NAACP is to “ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights and there is no racial hatred or racial discrimination.”

Among the trends the NAACP is looking to turn around are (stats according to NAACP):

• that majority minority public school districts receive nearly $1,000 less per pupil

• 78 percent of teachers in majority minority public  school districts do not teach in their accredited subject area

• more than 52 percent of minorities have no health insurance

• more than 25 percent of African Americans live below the poverty level

• black women make up 69 percent and blacks as a whole make up 50 percent of new HIV/AIDS cases

• median net worth: Whites – $81,700, Blacks – $10,000, and Hispanics – $3,000

• once arrested, minorities are three times as likely to be incarcerated as whites.

Burt added that the establishment of the unit is about helping to ensure that equality is shared by all members of the community.

“We do have some problems in our community and we want to address these issues. Our mission is simple ... we want everyone to be treated equally – everyone. That’s what this organization does. It doesn’t matter what color of skin you have, we are here to make sure everyone enjoys the same rights,” Burt said.

Burt said those interested in joining the new Leeds NAACP Unit may call her at 699-2390, or members Fernessa McConico at 699-2325 or Robbie Anderson at 335-0325.


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