The Arlington branch of the NAACP plans to use its institutional knowledge to help build bridges to the future, its recently re-elected president said.
“You don’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been,” said Julius “J.D.” Spain Sr., who on Dec. 14 was sworn in for a second two-year term of the 650-plus-member body.
It has been a busy year for the civil-rights organization, Spain said, but one that has seen its members rise to the tasks at hand.
“I’m so thrilled and honored at what we’ve done and been able to accomplish. We’ve been engaged,” he said.
Founded in 1940, the Arlington branch of the NAACP in recent years has been reinvigorated, focusing on issues from criminal-justice reform to housing to education.
“It’s been a busy, busy year,” said Kent Carter, who is back for a second term as first vice president and also chairs the criminal-justice committee. “The members have really, truly stepped up.”
The organization also works with those of like mind to influence policy at the state level.
“It was a great year for political action, even with COVID,” said Detta Kissel, who chairs the Arlington NAACP political action committee, who pointed to “a lot of advances” statewide.
On education, the NAACP pressed the county school system on a host of issues, including the need to have a seat at the table in selection of Arlington’s new superintendent earlier in 2020.
“We don’t work in a vacuum; we get a lot of help,” said Sherrice Kerns, who co-chairs the education committee with Symone Walker. Kerns said the goal was always “making sure minority children in Arlington thrive just like white kids – we want that to be ongoing work.”
The organization also funds scholarships for college students, and recently conducted an online mentorship/leadership-training effort for recipients.
“This was a very successful program. The students really enjoyed it,” said Karen Nightengale, a former NAACP president and currently its executive director.
Leading the installation ceremony was former Arlington NAACP head Dr. Alfred Taylor Sr., a civic leader historian and (as Spain said) “living legend” in Arlington.
Dr. Taylor lauded leaders from the recent past who have helped the Arlington NAACP as it has “grown and evolved to take its rightful place” in the broader community.
Taylor also welcomed the new team he was swearing in.
“We are excited about the potential our chapter has for future growth and development under these leaders,” he said.
In addition to Spain and Carter, the leadership team includes Kerns (second vice president), Michael Hemminger (third vice president), Roy Austin (treasurer), Adriana Spain (assistant treasurer), Wanda Younger (secretary) and Dominique Jenkins (assistant secretary). Joining Nightengale and Walker on the executive committee is James Younger.
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