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Effort to revive NAACP in Carroll appears close; Membership tops minimum requirement


After nearly a year of organizing, an attempt to revive a branch of the NAACP in Carroll County has taken root.

Membership for the local chapter exceeds 100, the minimum for establishing a branch of the national civil rights organization, organizers said yesterday.

"We are there -- really, we are over the number," said the Rev. James Hinton, pastor of Union Memorial Baptist Church in Westminster, where members have been meeting since March.

Hinton, an organizer of the local effort, said he expects to announce the group has reached its quota at its meeting next week.

"It has been a struggle, but I am really pleased we made it," he said.

To be established as a branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a group must submit names of 100 dues-paying members who are residents of the area. To keep its charter, a branch cannot drop below 50 members.

"We can keep 50 -- we have been doing that for months," said Thelma Smith, an organizer.

NAACP officials rely on membership rolls to determine a community's need for and willingness to participate in and sponsor activities, said Mark Clack, national director of branches and field operations, for the NAACP.

A new branch must receive recommendations from the state conference president and the regional director. Those recommendations and enrollment numbers -- names and annual dues -- are forwarded to Clack.

"All local units are subordinate to the state conference," said Clack. "Persons gathering memberships must forward all information to me."

As Carroll County grows, it will need watchdog groups to ensure fair access to services, education and jobs, Clack said.

As of yesterday, Clack had not received a charter request from the Carroll group, making it unlikely the issue will come before the national board of directors at its quarterly meeting Feb. 19. A decision on Carroll's charter will probably have to wait for the May session.

"We are in no hurry," said Hinton. "We probably will wait until May to ask for a charter."

The Rev. Cordell Hunter, state regional chairman, has met several times with the Carroll group and pledged his support to its charter effort. He refused to comment on the membership drive yesterday and criticized The Sun for "meddling in the internal affairs of the local organization."

Local organizers began building membership slowly in a county with about 4,200 blacks, who make up less than 3 percent of the population.

They met their goal last month when about 20 members joined the group after a plea at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. dinner in Eldersburg.

"It has been many years since we have had a chapter here," said George Murphy of Eldersburg. "I will be involved and help it happen. We all want to make sure it is done right and gets off to a good start."

During the 1980s, Carroll had a fairly active NAACP branch. The Rev. Mary D. Carter-Cross resurrected the group twice and built membership to about 200 during several years as its president. But, she said, she could not keep the branch going with a small core of active participants.

Carter-Cross resigned in 1993 and has moved from the county, but she said she frequently receives calls from residents concerned with racial issues in Carroll.

The Carroll group will meet at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 and the second Thursday of each month at the Union Memorial Baptist Church, 160 S. Center St. in Westminster. Information: 410-876-3565.

Pub Date: 2/04/99

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