- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 15, 2009

CITIZEN JOURNALISM:

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s D.C. branch is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.

Its red-carpet event Thursday night at the Historic Lincoln Theatre will feature performances by actress Cicely Tyson and Grammy Award winner India.Arie.

The event is open to the public. WOL-AM talk-show host Joe Madison, known as the “Black Eagle,” will host.

Thursday’s program also spotlights women who exemplify the NAACP’s intergenerational fight for social justice. For example, the Rev. Marcia L. Dyson, a civic and social activist who is married to Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson, will moderate a conversation with Miss Tyson.

Though some contend the NAACP is no longer relevant, especially with the election of President Obama as the first black president, the D.C. branch has had a vigorous agenda this year and has been as busy as before the historic election, according to local leaders and members. Some leaders added that there has been even more need for the NAACP over the past nine months.

“We have made a lot of progress, but racial inequities persist. We still have a long way to go to ensure all Americans have their basic needs met and rights respected,” said Ruby Lewis, vice president of the D.C. branch, who’s chairing the event.

Meeting on the second Thursday of each month, the D.C. branch has worked on such agenda items as a 2008 voter registration campaign in collaboration with the National Council of Churches, DC Vote and other community organizations; an anti-gun violence initiative; youth outreach through the ACT-SO and Youth Works initiatives; and preservation of Carter G. Woodson’s D.C. home in partnership with the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

The D.C. branch also is in the planning stages of an HIV and AIDS awareness and prevention campaign, and it has established a blue-ribbon committee to assess the impact of plans by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to restructure and revitalize public schools.

Lorraine C. Miller, president of the NAACP’s D.C. branch, said she is excited about the 100th anniversary event and branch programs. She was sworn in as the 35th clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 15, 2007, but continues to serve in her elected role as president of the NAACP D.C. branch.

In the spirit of branch and chapter centennial celebrations nationwide, the D.C. branch will present some special awards to local activists who have made significant contributions to the arts, civil rights and the advancement of the community.

“We proudly celebrate our past as we step into our future with a renewed sense of hope, duty to our cause and enthusiasm,” Ms. Miller said.

Lyndia Grant is an author and freelance writer living in the District.