Jealous to speak at Freedom Fund banquet

NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous.

The NAACP helped make a mark on this month’s elections, and it was spurred, in part, by Gov. Nikki Haley, according to the head of the organization.

If you go

What: 95th annual Freedom Fund Banquet

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Charleston Area Convention Center

Tickets: $100

Call: 805-8030

“This fall, we really showed how effective we can be at mobilizing voters and getting folks focused on what’s important,” said Benjamin Jealous, president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The NAACP signed up 430,000 new voters this year and got 1.2 million people who were unlikely to vote to cast ballots, he said.

Jealous, who has led the group since 2008, will be the keynote speaker for the Charleston NAACP branch’s Freedom Fund Banquet Saturday. He plans to talk about voting rights, jobs and job creation, and criminal justice policies.

“We benefited from the big national fight over voting rights,” he said. “The far right wing in this country and their supporters, like Governor Haley, can take some credit for spurring black-voter turnout, because the story of this election for the black community and for people of color across the country is in many ways the backlash to the backlash.

“Because Governor Haley attacked voting rights early last year ... it allowed us to talk to people much earlier about the importance of their vote.

“It’s like that rusty bicycle that might be in your front yard. If somebody tries to steal it, and then they try to steal it again and again, all of a sudden you realize maybe it’s more valuable than you realized and you take steps to lock it up.”

In addition, special guests at the event will be L. Jonathan Holston, resident bishop of the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, and Richard Franklin Norris, bishop of the South Carolina AME church.

The Charleston NAACP is hoping to strengthen its presence in churches, and aims to do so by centering this year’s banquet on the topic.

“Our hope for the NAACP is to see if we can get more engagement from the local churches around these issues of education and other issues we deal with daily in the community,” said Dot Scott, president of the Charleston branch of the NAACP.

“A lot of what we do is kind of downstream from the national (organization). Whatever it is that the national is focusing on, those are the things we get involved with.”

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or www.facebook.com/brindge

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