Feb 062013



By Jane Dail

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

East Carolina University’s NAACP kicked off Black History Month on Tuesday night by hosting an event that featured talent from the university and featured state NAACP President William Barber.

The second annual Civil Rights Monologue featured students singing, performing monologues, dances and more in Hendrix Theater.

ECU Gospel Choir members swayed and clapped in unison as they belted out moving songs. Monologues riveted crowds with painfully honest and thought-provoking messages.

Demonte Alford of ECU’s NAACP chapter, who introduced Barber, said it is important for people to remember what has happened in the past and to continue the work laid down before them.

“The NAACP … since 1909 has been on the front lines fighting for equality for all, economic, education, social justice,” Alford said. “Our aims are to uproot and (do) away with racism and any form of discrimination.”

Barber spoke to the crowd about the history of civil rights in America. He also pushed younger generations to gain the momentum to continue a path to justice.

“You all are my heroes because the hope of today and tomorrow is in your hands,” Barber said to the young crowd. “There are some things that have happened that mean that you now have the chance to complete some things that were not completed, if you don’t forget where you’ve come from and push forward.”

He spoke about many of the civil rights leaders who started at a young age and how generations prior gave one man the inspiration to be a leader.

“Rosa Parks … inspired a young teacher. He wasn’t even 30 years old,” Barber said. “We call him now Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He never wanted to be in the movement. She inspired him. He began to lead a nonviolent movement. That movement opened up public accommodations and to break the back of segregation.”

Barber said King encouraged younger generations, the same age as most of the audience, to take a stand.

“He did not tell them, ‘You’re the young people and your time is tomorrow,’” Barber said. “He said, ‘This is your moment.’ That energy led to the march on Washington.”

ECU student Devin Butler, who co-hosted the event, said his generation should no longer sit and watch the change around them but be the change.

“It’s time for our generation to actually carry this torch, and this is our taking over and to start doing things,” Butler said. “It’s time for the leaf to turn over. We need younger politicians, younger people who want to go out and spread the message. … There are still very, very many topics that need to be fought within the community, not only the African-American community but … all throughout the nation.”

Barber also spoke about how there has been a backlash after every major civil rights movement, including after the election of President Barack Obama.

“You must know where you are in history, that this is no time to be lackadaisical,” he said. “Just like we saw in 1872 a backlash just like we saw in 1868 a backlash. After the election of 2008, we saw a backlash. Some call it the Tea Party backlash, some people call it ultra-conservatism.”

He said some of the new tactics to keep people from being equal include voter ID laws and redistricting.

“It’s not Jim Crow that’s going to keep you from voting, It’s James Crow esquire,” he said. “They’re going to come up with tricks. … You must be like those young folk in 1868 or those young folk in the 1960s and you must take hold of this moment and organize all over this state and this country because you have power that your foreparents didn’t have.”

Contact Jane Dail at jdail@reflector.com or 252-329-9585.

via The Daily Reflector.


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