Lee County NAACP Celebrates Second Anniversary

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PHOTO CONTRIBUTED TO THE OBSERVER

BY HANNAH LESTER

HLESTER@
OPELIKAOBSERVER.COM

LEE COUNTY —

The Lee County NAACP Branch #5038 is coming up on its two-year anniversary.

Actually, the branch was only “re-started” two years ago.

“The branch had been around for years, however, it went defunct several years ago,” said President of the branch Billy Allen. “… But in 2019, a reorganization committee was formed.”

At that time, seven members of the Lee County Voters League joined with Allen, Irene Dowdell, who was elected secretary; and John Andrew Harris, who was named treasurer; to re-form the chapter.

The National NAACP at the time said that in order to form a chapter, Lee County’s branch would need 100 members.

“We worked and we worked until we got 100 members,” Allen said. “We submitted our reactivation, reinstatement papers to the state conference and to the national. And we were reinstated, reactivated on July 25, 2020.”

The branch will celebrate its birthday on Saturday, July 30, at Covington Recreation Center’s outdoor picnic area. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the group will celebrate but will also be hoping to recruit new members.

“We’re going to be recruiting new members, we’re going to be asking present members to renew their membership and we’re going to raise money for our scholarship fund,” Allen said.

The group works with the Lee County Remembrance Project to raise scholarship funds.

“Following the call from the Equal Justice Initiative, we are a volunteer-based, community-driven initiative working to reconcile the racial violence that occurred in Lee County, Alabama,” said the Lee County Remembrance Project website. “Using a truth and reconciliation framework, we work to confront our history of racial terror in Lee County and engage in the discussions necessary to overcome its persistent legacy.”

One of the projects the Lee County Remembrance Project completed was a historical marker sharing information about lynching in Lee County that was erected at Courthouse Square in Opelika.

Lee County NAACP Branch #5038 hopes to raise $5,000 for the Remembrance Project’s scholarship, Allen said.

Over the last two years, the branch has been involved in projects, such as helping the Remembrance Project; working on redistricting in the cities of Auburn, Opelika and in Lee County; advocating for the needs of the underserved in regards to the Opelika Carver-Jeter plan; providing COVID-19 testing; and more.

“Our goal, as the Lee County NAACP branch, is to carry out the mission of the NAACP, which is to advocate for the underserved, the unspoken people and citizens of Lee County,” Allen said. “And we want to fight for equality, equity and justice educationally, socially, politically and economically. And that’s our overall goal.”

To continue branching out, the Lee County Branch also restarted the student-branch on Auburn University’s campus.

All of these goals are far from finished, however, such as COVID-19 awareness and seeing what can be done to stop gun violence in the county, Allen said.

Over the next two years, Allen said the group hopes to add members, continue working toward their goals and working with local government agencies.

The group currently has about 170 members.

“We want the cities in Lee County to be the best they possibly can for all the residents of the county and the cities,” Allen said. “… We’re here to stay, and we’re here to stay because we want the municipalities in Lee County to be the best in the state of Alabama in terms of serving and providing for the people that live in those areas.”

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