On behalf of the Board of Directors, and the membership of the Nansemond-Suffolk Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), I, as current president, do hereby officially submit this letter in response to the recent debacle that took place in Charlottesville, VA. It is with a heavy heart that I even have to write such a letter in 2017. However, it is necessary that I offer this forthright statement demonstrating NAACP’s persistent and continued commitment to stand against racial hatred, bigotry, anti-Semitism and home-grown terrorism.
Regrettably, August 12, 2017 will go down in infamy as a time when Charlottesville, VA invariably played host to a racially charged public display of racial hatred, Nazism and anti-Semitism (in spite of the fact that our very own Governor McAuliffe had previously admonished the alt-right not to bring their hate to Virginia).
Nonetheless, this mob-like scene was coordinated, organized and promulgated by garden variety White supremacists who claimed to be there only to rally against plans for the city to remove one of the nation’s Civil War monuments. In this case, the monument was that of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate War General.
As the oldest civil rights organization in the world, we believe in and support the basic are fundamental constitutional rights of all Americans, including Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly. And some of our members even believe it is okay to have monuments that depict historical realities.
For example one of our members wrote: “regarding The Charlottesville situation – the monuments are appearing to have a special meaning to a segment of our population therefore considering all of us without punishing any of us, I believe we can settle by housing the confederate monuments in a museum dedicated to the era highlighted. It is disturbing to me when entering a government building or any public place to be confronted with a piece of history that denigrates my ancestors. If not a museum someplace else where honored the dead i.e. the Graveyard.” Many believe that those monuments which cause pain and suffering most likely should be held in places like museums, not in public squares.
The organizers of the Charlottesville march had properly secured a permit to peacefully march through the City in opposition to the proposed plan to bring down the monument. But here are some fundamental questions that one must ponder:
1) if in fact it was to be a peaceful march, why then did those of the so-called alt-right feel the need to bring assault weapons, brass knuckles, various knifes and blades?
2) why the need to spew and hurl vile and disgusting racial epithets, anti-Semitic hate speech, as well white supremacist rhetoric at on-lookers, counter protestors, the media and the residents of the lovely town of Charlottesville? and,
3) why serve as an incendiary enabling agent to help further ignite the flames of violence and hatred amongst its very own members?
These acts were despicable and cannot be tolerated, particularly in (what is supposed to be) a representative democracy. There is no room, or any manner in which to draw or tolerate a false equivalency either. We simply are not going to accept such a weak, ill-conceived narrative. We are ready to have a normal real dialogue with anyone who respects us enough to understand that we are and have been the arbiters of peace, justice, civil and human rights for over 108 years. The members of the NAACP have been at the forefront of protecting freedoms for all people, and we will continue to do so in this instance.
Further, we would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to the family of Heather Heyer, who lost her life standing up for social justice, and to all of the citizens who sustained injuries as they too boldly stood up to individuals whose attempt at bullying failed miserably.
We acknowledge Deandre Harris from Suffolk who was savagely beaten by white supremacists. Additionally, we are saddened by the senseless deaths of two Virginia State Troopers, Berke Bates, and H. Jay Cullen.
In our efforts to stand firmly against the sort barbarism perpetrated upon the Body of America on that day, we are working collaboratively with the Virginia State Conference, all the branches in the Hampton Roads region, and our National Office. In so doing, the Nansemond-Suffolk Branch will be conducting Talented Tuesdays starting on the 2nd Tuesday of the month in September. We will recognize and honor state and local social justice advocates who demonstrate ideals consistent with fundamental principles of civil and human rights. We will be doing this every month, in conjunction with massive voter registration activities in partnership with other organizations.
Further, we will deploy members of our organization out into the community to help support educational workshops, social justice rallies, and other action-oriented awareness activities. We will use the civic square to facilitate exchange of ideas in this United States of America to uphold the democratic process.
Finally, for those who ever doubted the value and relevance of the NAACP, we ask for your continued support by joining your local branch today. We remain on the front lines seeking to keep freedoms and liberty for all Americans.
The Suffolk team can be reached at (757) 373-3647, or (678) 748-0705. Become a member today for only $30. We pray for peace, justice and freedom.
D. K. Seneca Bock, MSW, is the Nansemond-Suffolk Branch NAACP, President.