NAACP celebrates 30 years of activism
As the Rowan-Salisbury branch of the NAACP celebrates its 30th anniversary, here’s a look at the group’s work in the community:
1979 ó The Salisbury-Rowan chapter of the NAACP forms with 300 members. Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt tells the new group that the country is swinging to the right, and that blacks must become more politically involved.
1981 ó Calling the situation “intolerable,” the local group petitions the Salisbury City Council to hire more black officers for the police department. At that time, the department has 70 employees, including 11 who are black.
1983 ó The city makes national news as the Salisbury-based Food Lion grocery store chain refuses to sign economic deals with the NAACP. The organization is asking the company to sign contracts promising more hiring and promoting of blacks, as well as the purchase of goods from minority-owned companies.
1984 ó The NAACP calls for a boycott of all of Food Lion’s 241 stores in the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia. Food Lion agrees to some of the organization’s demands in September, while saying that the concessions were things the company had been planning all along.
1985 ó As the Salisbury and Rowan schools systems plan to merge, the NAACP complains that the 11-member merger steering committee is all white.
1986 ó The group asks a social worker to apologize for telling the Salisbury Post that black children “mature sexually more quickly and have less supervision.”
1987 ó The NAACP weighs in on the merger of the Salisbury and Rowan schools systems, complaining about a lack of a significant black presence in administrative and teaching positions. The group also asks for the inclusion of black history in future history classes.
1989 ó The two schools systems merge. Rowan County is not on the state NAACP’s “dirty dozen” list of communities with severe racial problems.
1991 ó The NAACP files a federal lawsuit against the Rowan-Salisbury School Board to force a change in how board candidates are elected. The group contends that because candidates are elected countywide, blacks stand little chance of winning.
1993 ó The board of education agrees to change some of its hiring practices after black officials complain about the hiring of five new principals, all of them white.
1994 ó The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education creates a new majority black district to settle a voting rights lawsuit filed by the NAACP.
1994 ó In his first public appearance since disclosures of being sexual harassment, national NAACP Director Ben Chavis tells a crowd at Livingston College that he is being “falsely accused.” Two weeks later, Chavis is fired.
1998 ó The NAACP accuses the City of Salisbury of discriminatory practices within the police department. The city manager disciplines the police chief for remarks “which had negative racial overtones.”
2003 ó NAACP officials meet with the Rowan board of education after 10 students wear Confederate flag shirts to West Roman Middle School.
2005 ó The local NAACP says that while Salisbury is 45 percent minority, only 15 percent of city workers are black, Asian, Hispanic or Native American. Seven out of 10 city workers are white males. The organization says the numbers are “not acceptable.”
2006 ó Dr. Bryant Norman, local chapter president, warns against immigration becoming a “racial issue,” and calls for “fair and equitable” treatment of immigrants.
ó compiled by Lee Barnes