Reorganization of county NAACP put on hold more members needed; 50 dues-payers required to be permanent chapter


Activists seeking to reorganize a Carroll County branch of the NAACP had 43 members after a meeting in Westminster last night -- short of the 50 they need for an official charter.

But Charlotte Brown, the fledgling group's interim vice president, predicted after the meeting at Union Memorial Baptist Church that the requisite number of members will be reached soon.

"I've run out of membership cards," Brown said, "so there'll be far more than 50."

The former branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People folded five years ago after membership declined in the county, where the population is about 97 percent white.

To become a permanent chapter again, the group needs 50 dues-paying members.

Some activists began to mobilize after the Carroll County Board of Commissioners voted 2-1 against participating in "Call to Community: An Honest Conversation about Race Reconciliation and Responsibility" in March 1997.

Carroll was the only jurisdiction in the metropolitan area to reject the anti-racism initiative sponsored by Baltimore-based Interfaith Action for Racial Justice.

Commissioner Richard T. Yates was criticized for his comments that racism did not exist in the county.

"If Baltimore City dies, it dies," Yates said then. "Maybe we will dig it up and make farmland out of it. Why should we bail Baltimore out or be drawn into its problems? We have no race relations problems here. Why instigate them?"

Interim chapter President Thelma P. Smith told the group last night that Yates' comments demonstrate the need for a revitalized NAACP in the county, not only to raise awareness of racism, but to work for jobs, housing, education, health and business opportunities for all its residents.

"If you want Commissioner Yates to see your plight as a Carroll Countian, don't be afraid to speak out," Smith said. "Don't be afraid that you're 'creating a problem' or 'a troublemaker.' You are a taxpayer."

Vernice Musgrove, a senior-citizen volunteer, said she was surprised when a woman she had called asked if she was African-American.

"I enjoy living in Carroll County, but it is a little different out here," Musgrove said. "What was in her mind to ask me that?"

Support came from the Rev. Kerry Mueller of Cedarhurst Unitarian Universalists and Dan Schaller, secretary of Carroll Citizens for Racial Equality, a group with a religious focus that was formed after the Ku Klux Klan passed out leaflets in Finksburg about seven years ago.

The Rev. Robert E. Walker Jr. of Union Street United Methodist Church said that in the NAACP, "the more people -- black, white, Hispanic, Asian -- the better off we'll be. We want all races, ages, sexes [as members]."

The next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 13 at Union Street United Methodist Church, 22 Union St. in Westminster.

Pub Date: 6/05/98

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