The members and chapters of the NAACP throughout Tennessee came together last weekend for the 69th annual state convention and civil rights advocacy conference, Sept. 17-19. The Tennessee State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had come together to strategize how to implement a program, “Pursuing Liberty in the Face of Injustice.”
State conference President Gloria Sweet-Love opened the convention Thursday morning, Sept. 17 at a press conference attended by speakers Nashville Mayor-elect Megan Barry, State legislators Brenda Gilmore and John Ray Clemmons, mayor Paige Brown of Gallatin, Rev. Dr. Judy Cummins, and others in the welcoming confines of the Gordon Memorial Methodist Church, host for the day’s events.
The Thursday morning press conference was immediately followed by a Religious Affairs / Membership Luncheon where dynamic speaker Elder Frank D. Stevenson, Sr. charged the rapt audience to move from good to great. He noted that in this struggle, as in life, there is no time out, no time to sit on the bench. The pastor of St. Luke Primitive Baptist Church said that “the only way to do greater works is to do somethings different than the way we’re used to doing them,” and to do them without a fear of failure.
After the luncheon, a Faith Leaders / Community Health Forum addressed National Childhood Obesity Month, this September, with presentations by Dr. Marjorie A. Innocent, Senior Director, and Ms. Bernadette Onyenaka, Health Specialist, both of the NAACP Health Department, Baltimore, Maryland; along with representatives from the Tennessee State Conference NAACP Childhood Obesity Team and from Voices for Healthy Kids. Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disparities in Tennessee were addressed at the Forum by Tene H. Franklin, Director, Minority & Disparity Elimination and Monty Burke, Director, Faith Based initiatives, Division of Substance Abuse Services, both for the Tennessee Department of Health, Nashville. After the delegates’ opening plenary session, a mass meeting and a soul food reception completed the first day’s activities.
Friday’s activities at the host Hotel Preston began at 8:00 am with the Labor / Human Rights Breakfast. Afterwards, a panel discussion for worker’s rights followed. Leading up to the Advocacy Luncheon and following it were discussions centered on “Lifting the Standards of Education for All Children.”
Other activities of the day included presentations on “Voter Rights & Organizing for Jobs & Justice,” Voter Education and Legislative Updates. Friday evening, the Youth & College Division hosted a Town Hall Meeting at Meharry Medical College in the Cal Turner Center, featuring students, parents, and advocates from across the state.
Saturday morning’s event at Hotel Preston began with a 7:30 am Women in NAACP (WIN) Breakfast with speaker Rep. Brenda Gilmore. Criminal Justice (Carlton Mayer) and Financial Empowerment (Charles Lowery) sessions led into the Vernon Jarrett Youth Awards Luncheon, followed by workshops discussing Youth Advancement.
The convention closed with the Freedom Awards Banquet, where Dr. Forrest Harris, President of American Baptist College, was the speaker Saturday evening at the Hotel Preston.