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Revival of NAACP branch is close; Group may seek charter in May


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 requirement 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 NAACP members have been meeting since March.

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

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

To be established as a branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a group must sub- mit the 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, who has helped organize the effort.

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

A new branch must receive rec- ommendations from the state conference president and the regional director.

Those recommendations as well as 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 residents have fair access to services, education and jobs, Clack said.

No charter request

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," Hinton said. "We probably will wait until May to ask for a charter."

The Rev. Cordell Hunter, NAACP state regional chairman, has met several times with the Carroll group and pledged his support to its charter effort.

Hunter 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 where about 4,200 African-Americans make up less than 3 percent of the population.

They met their goal last month when about 20 new 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."

Active branch

In 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 only a small core of active participants.

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

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

Pub Date: 2/04/99

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