TUPELO – When the Rev. Robert Jamison reflects back on the 100 years that the NAACP has existed, he can only shake his head and smile.
Jamison, president of the Lee County Chapter of the NAACP, describes the work the organization has done to improve equality in America as “amazingly necessary.”
More than 200 attended the NAACP banquet “Bold Dreams, Big Victories” at The Summit Center on Friday night to celebrate 100 years of service.
“To me 100 years means the release of 100 discriminatory practices in America,” Jamison said. “It means the ending of 100 prejudices. But it mostly means a celebration for the recognition that all people are created equal and have the equal opportunities to live the American dream.”
Event speaker the Rev. Harold Aarrington said over the past 100 years the country has come a long way, thanks to many brave people.
“This celebration makes me think about bold dreams and big victories,” Aarrington said. “From 1909 through 2009 we have witnessed many dreams as well as victories. In the next 100 years we hope to experience many, many more and through the grace of God and the hard work of his people we’ll get there.”
Local dignitaries like Jack Reed Sr., Ward 4 Councilwoman Nettie Davis and former Councilwoman Doyce Deas were in attendance.
As part of the gala, event organizers tapped several community leaders for special recognition, including Reed and Felix Black, community organizer James Hull, longtime Boy Scout leader Palmer Foster, and former Tupelo police officers Cliff Hardy and Robert Hall. About two dozen people received honors.
The night was filled with music, food and stories about the good old days when things weren’t so easy for people in the area.
“Back when we grew up there would have been no way we could sit here and laugh and talk together like this,” said Bobby Walker to his white friend, Charles Stringer. “We would have been on two different sides of the color barrier. Me on the side of the oppressed and him on the side of the oppressor.
“Not that all whites were that way, but that’s just the way we grew up. Now Charles is my best friend. Our kids went to school together and we go to church together. If that isn’t enough to show you that these 100 years have been good, then I don’t know what to tell you.”
Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal