The Kansas City Missouri Branch of the NAACP holds general membership meetings on the 3rd Tuesday of every month. The normal location is the Brush Creek Community Center at 3801 Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd. Meeting time is 6:30 pm.
The NAACP Kansas City, Missouri executive committee passed a resolution opposing a new half-cent sales tax in support of Translational Medicine on the November 5 ballot. This proposed measure is in violation of our national focus of jobs and economic sustainability for our communities.
The resolution argued that a half-cent sales tax was a form of regressive financing, where poor and middle class people who pay sales taxes on food and other basic household items would be paying a larger percentage of their income than other economic strata. The branch resolution also noted the absence of job guarantees for Jackson County residents in both the construction phase and the operational phase of any new institute. The branch also noted that the 20% of net revenues supposedly set aside for “indigent care, public health and public education,” would be given to the Jackson County Healthcare Foundation, rather than to Jackson County or its residents.
“We are not opposed to a new medical institute, as such” said branch president Anita L. Russell, “but we are opposed to financing it with a tax on those who can least afford to pay for it. Plus, there is no promise that any of the jobs created by any new institute would be for those currently living in Jackson County.”
It should be noted that Freedom Inc., a political organization rooted in the African American community, and the League of Women Voters have already issued statements in opposition to the proposed new sales tax. Both organizations cited the regressive nature of the funding formula in their statements.
NAACP leaders heard presentations from both proponents and opponents of the measure before discussing it in committee. All the NAACP voices went in the same direction: there are no new jobs promised to Jackson County residents who will pay an unfair and oppressive tax for this measure. The answer was no to the proposed measure on the November 5 ballot.
According to Ms. Russell: “The NAACP appreciates those persons and institutions who have already made statements in support of this proposed measure, but we cannot in good faith support it ourselves; and we urge all others to vote no.”
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Excitement Expected for Ms. Barbara Arnwine as Keynote Speaker at the 46th NAACP Freedom Fund Luncheon & Centennial Celebration on October 26th
Ms. Barbara R. Arnwine, Esquire will be the keynote speaker at the NAACP Kansas City, Missouri Branch 46th Freedom Fund Luncheon & Centennial Celebration on Saturday,October 26. The silent auction is 11a.m. and the luncheon will begin at 12:00 noon at the Westin Crown Center Hotel and has a reputation as the premiere civil rights venue of the year. Ms. Arnwine, president of the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, is well-known for her powerful oratory. She will excite and interest everyone listening as she explains the Supreme Court’s recent attack on voting rights, talks about racial discrimination and the death penalty, and tells one and all how to stand up and protect your vote.
“The NAACP is extremely glad that we have been able to secure Ms. Arnwine as our speaker,” branch president and national board member Ms. Anita L. Russell said. She is the 2013 recipient of the coveted Hubert H. Humphrey Civil and Human Rights Award presented by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. Ms. Arnwine is a frequent analyst on CNN and MSNBC. President Russell also states, “She is the difference between an ordinary fundraising event and a truly great Freedom Fund Luncheon.”
A graduate of Scripps College and Duke University School of Law, Ms. Arnwine has represented African descendants from the Americas when drafting provisions of United Nations programs, convened the third national conference of African American Women in the Law and led a delegation to the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women. Her work helped lead to passage of the 1991 Civil Rights Act. The Lawyers Committee, of which she is president, has created a famous “Map of Shame” that highlights states’ proposals to disenfranchise and threaten the vote of minorities, students, low-income, disabled and elderly persons.
Ms. Arnwine is a prominent leader of Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition. The coalition hosted 38 call centers in the 2012 election, and has 5,300 trained legal volunteers and 2,300 grassroots volunteers in 22 states and 80 voting jurisdictions.
As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations this past August, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights held a special forum on the “The Unjust Relationship Between Race and the Criminal Justice System,” moderated by Ms. Arnwine. Everyone attending the luncheon should expect an outstanding event.
Medgar Evers and the Early Fight for Civil Rights in Mississippi:
Medgar Wiley Evers is a genuine American hero. As Field Secretary for the NAACP in Mississippi, he recruited members and organized branches, was an early leader in the fight for voting rights, and aimed at desegregating education, as well as the town square. He worked tirelessly, knowing that anyone who spoke out for freedom was a likely target in one of the most vicious and violent racist states.
Medgar Wiley Evers lives on in the hearts of NAACP members, in the minds of all freedom and justice loving peoples, and in the many monuments that bear his name. On June 28, 1992 a life-size bronze statue of Evers was unveiled at Medgar Evers Public Library in Jackson, Mississippi. In that city, a post office, and an international airport are named after him. There is a Medgar Evers College Preparatory School in Brooklyn, and a Medgar Evers Fine and Performing Arts Elementary School in Chicago.
Medgar Evers was born on July 2, 1925 in Decatur, Mississippi. His father worked in a saw mill and farmed, and his mother took in laundry and ironing. He lied about his age to get into the army and served in World War II in a segregated field battalion in England and France. After the war, he attended Alcorn College (now Alcorn State University), where he edited the student newspaper for two years and was entered into the Who’s Who in American Colleges. He married Myrlie Beasley from Vicksburg in 1951.
In 1952, while selling insurance to the poorest and most destitute African Americans in the delta region of Mississippi, Evers became a founding member of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership. In the fall of 1953, he decided to apply to the University of Mississippi Law School—a whites-only institution at that time–and he submitted his application in January 1954.
After being denied admission, he filed suit with the assistance of the NAACP, and future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was his attorney.
In December 1954, at the age of 29, Medgar Evers was hired as Field Secretary of the NAACP. Before taking the job, he and Myrlie discussed it and she agreed on the proviso that “we came as a package.” The two of them opened the NAACP office in Jackson.
After the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education, NAACP Legal Defense Fund Director Thurgood Marshall called for a new round of litigation aimed at destroying Jim Crow segregation. In Mississippi, the white power structure aimed to oppose any attempts at desegregation. And on September 9, 1954 in Walthall County, 30 members of the local NAACP were called before a grand jury simply because they were advocating school desegregation.
A string of murders followed in Mississippi in 1955. Rev. George Lee, head of the NAACP branch in Belzoni was murdered on May 7, after he told authorities he would not stop trying to register voters. On August 13, Lamar Smith, 63 years old and a World War II veteran, was shot in full public view of many people in Brookhaven, because he too was urging people to vote. And on August 28, 14-year old Emmett Till was beaten to death. In order to investigate Till’s murder, Medgar Evers “dressed like a field hand,” in order to not raise suspicions and solicited potential witnesses, according to The Autobiography of Medgar Evers: A Hero’s Life and Legacy Revisited Through His Writings, Letters, and Speeches, by Myrlie Evers-Williams and Manning Marable. No one was ever convicted for any of these crimes.
As Field Secretary, Medgar Evers traveled the state, recruiting members to the NAACP, building branches, and fighting for voter registration. In a number of instances, he organized campaigns to pay the poll tax, so that one less hurdle stood in the way of voter registration.
At a Men’s Day program at a church in Jackson in 1962, he said: “As Negro Americans living in Mississippi today, it is imperative that we put forth extra effort to accomplish the desired goals of freedom for all…We must do our best. It is necessary that we become a part of this worldwide struggle for human dignity …Some of the signs that are most encouraging are the demonstrations in Africa, which are bringing about … independence…”
Mass demonstrations by students and young people against Jim Crow segregation broke out again in Jackson in early 1963. When the Mayor went on television to call for an end to the protests, Medgar Evers appealed to the FCC under the “equal time” provision and won 17 minutes to publicly make the case for integration and equal rights—a first in Mississippi history. On May 28, while speaking at a local AME church, he called for a “massive offensive against segregation.” And on June 1, 1963 Medgar and NAACP national executive secretary Roy Wilkins were arrested on a picket line at a Woolworth’s store in Jackson.
Just 11 days later, Medgar Evers was assassinated by a white supremacist coward, who hid in bushes across the street and shot the valiant NAACP leader on the doorstep of his home. The killer eluded conviction until 1994, when he was finally convicted and sent to prison for life.
Medgar Wiley Evers is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. After his death, his wife, Myrlie, moved to California with their three children and eventually remarried. She became national chair of the NAACP board of directors in 1995, and helped save it from suffocating debt. She has just recently moved back to Mississippi, and is participating in nationwide events to honor her martyred husband.
NAACP President Roy Wilkins (Left) and Medgar Evers (Center) in 1963
The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission was a state-financed agency founded in 1956 with the Governor as its nominal head. It wrapped itself in the language of “states’ rights,” but its purpose was to oppose the civil rights movement in that state, and to protect Jim Crow segregation and the monopoly white people had over voting rights. It acted as an “intelligence” agency: hiring investigators, infiltrating civil rights organizations, and collecting personal information on NAACP members and other civil rights advocates.
The Commission kept tabs on Medgar Evers and when Byron de la Beckwith went to trial in 1964 for his murder, the state-funded Sovereignty Commission assisted the killer’s lawyers. Further, two Jackson policemen lied under oath during that trial, providing Beckwith with a false alibi until it came apart in 1994.
Remembering Medgar W. Evers
….His Life and Legacy on Voting Rights
When: Thursday, June 13 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Where: Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center
3700 Blue Parkway, Kansas City, Missouri
Free and Open to the Public
Refreshments will be served
Hear about Medgar W. Evers, the NAACP’s first field secretary for Mississippi, assassinated by a white supremacist at an early age, and his pioneering fight for a democratic society and voting rights for all the descendants of slaves. Learn how to restore your voting rights, even if you have temporarily lost them as a result of a conviction. Register to vote and/or update your address. Join the NAACP. Remember that all of us today must commemorate all the martyrs of the freedom movement.
Presenters will be:
· Ms. Samara Winbush, a 2013 graduate of UMKC law school with a B.A. from Carleton College in Minnesota. She is an avid protector of voting rights for all
· Rep. Lloyd Daniel, an educator, poet and advocate. A former Missouri state representative he has served as an instructor at UMKC and Penn Valley Community College
Part one of the panel discussion with questions from the moderator.
Part two of the panel discussion with questions from the audience.