Donations to Hickory Soup Kitchen honor Black History Month

Special To The ONE
Staff Writer

The year 2020 marks the 111th anniversary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Founded in 1909 by a group of black and white individuals concerned about violence against African Americans, it was born out of a very dark chapter of American History. Unfortunately, much of African American or Black History is found in the darkest chapters of American History.

The mission of the NAACP is to “secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons.” It might also be reasoned that one role of the NAACP is to always shine a light on Black History, past and present without regard to the fact that February is recognized as “Black History Month.”

Currently, the focus of the NAACP’s work nationally and in the state of North Carolina includes several major areas of inequality facing African Americans and other people of color: Economic Sustainability, Education, Health, Public Safety and Criminal Justice, Voting Rights and Political Representation and Expanding Youth and Young Adult Engagement.

Generally, the Hickory branch NAACP supports all these areas. To the extent that our resources allow we actively participate in national and state programs and events such as the Moral March on Raleigh which branch members and other Hickory residents attended on February 8th. Our primary focus, however, is to implement the Association’s mission through service to the Hickory community.

Much of what we do is informative, educational and collaborative. One example is the joint publication of a history of local black churches with The Hickory Landmarks Society in 2019. Annually, we collaborate with other agencies through civil discourse in the community forum we host as part of the city-wide Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in January. And, while the NAACP is nonpartisan, the branch has a long-standing practice of educating voters, registering voters and helping them get to the polls when necessary. In addition to being supportive of the Hickory Public Schools, we provide scholarships to high school graduates.

We celebrate community residents including youth and adults by providing opportunities for their contributions, great and small, to be recognized publicly when they might otherwise go unnoticed.

Most recently, the branch successfully collaborated with several community agencies within the city of Hickory to focus attention on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and historical contributions of African Americans. Products of that collaboration included a bell ringing ceremony honoring Dr. King; a sensational forum which featured participation by youth from various areas of the community; free screening of the film “Selma” at the Carolina Theater and a graphic arts competition (works exhibited at Lenoir Rhyne University).
Collaborating agencies and individuals include: The City of Hickory, Exodus Ministries, Alan Finley, Madeline Finley, Footcandle Film Society, Fourk Restaurant, Gregory Johnson, Hartzell Memorial United Methodist Church, Band Director Justin Beebe and Drum Corp of Hickory High School, Hickory Police Department, Joseph Hill Tutorial Program, Lise Swensson, Retired Art Instructor, Morning Star First Baptist Church, Ridgeview Senior Group, Multicultural Affairs of Lenoir Rhyne University, Ridgeview Recreation Center, Young People of Integrity (YPOI), Theater Arts Academy, Hickory Career & Arts Magnet School (HCAM), supported in part by United Arts Council of Catawba County grants.

Much can be said about what is good in the Hickory area. But, Hickory and surrounding areas are diverse communities. Therefore, Black History, all local history, can be at its best only when there is more collaboration, more civil discourse and more inclusion of all factions of the greater community. We strongly call on community leaders to make that happen. Help our community become a better for all its residents!

The Hickory NAACP is a nonprofit 501(c)4 membership organization under the umbrella of the national NAACP, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. We accept all members who accept our mission. We welcome donations.