Washington Branch Of The NAACP
The Washington Branch of the NAACP, a civil rights organization, is working to create a local Citizen Police Review Board, mobilizes people to vote, acknowledges local people and organizations who advance human rights, and celebrates the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.
The proposed Citizen Police Review Board would review complaints of mistreatment of citizens by City of Washington, PA police. The board would have seven members, three appointed by the Mayor and four selected by city council, creating a diverse panel that represents citizens and police. Washington City Council has had the first reading of an ordinance to create the board, which could lead to a vote in June, 2021.
“I was hoping we were at the stage where it could be approved, but the new FOP President is asking questions. We have to make sure that he’s aware of everything that’s going on,” Dr. Andrew Goudy, President of the Washington Branch of the NAACP, said. Goudy is hoping to see the independent board ratified by City Council sometime this year.
The local NAACP has always been involved in registering people to vote and getting out the vote on election days. Their political action committee informs people about candidates in primary and general elections. Their Candidates Forums draw candidates from all local offices. During the coronavirus pandemic of 2020/2021, they handed out face masks and voting information outside their headquarters, and helped people apply for mail-in ballots. They held a “Get Out The Vote” rally ahead of the 2020 general elections.
Each spring, the Washington Branch of the NAACP presents their Human Rights Award to an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to human rights. The award is made at the NAACP Human Rights Award Banquet, which is usually attended by 200 people. In 2021, the banquet became a program over Zoom, which has been used heavily for online video meetings during the pandemic. The 2021 award honored WOMEN of Southwestern PA, an organization for philanthropy and networking that supports women and children in southwestern PA who are in need.
In mid-January, the local NAACP organizes a celebration of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was the most visible spokesperson of the movement for the civil rights of African-Americans until he was assassinated in 1968. Typically the local event is held at a church with a speaker, singing and a program. In January, 2021, the Martin Luther King, Jr., event was moved online due to the pandemic. Amid national unrest over deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police and the armed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the theme of the event was, “We’ll be all right.”
The local NAACP’s Education Committee awards scholarships to area high school students and addresses complaints from local high schools.
The organization publishes a list of job openings that gets updated every month.
The Washington Branch of the NAACP had planned to be involved with the LeMoyne Community Center events marking Juneteenth, a holiday that celebrates the freedom of people who were enslaved in the U.S. The center’s program was canceled for 2021 due to the pandemic.
Since the pandemic appeared, the Washington Branch of the NAACP has held their monthly meetings on Zoom. The meetings will continue online until the national organization approves in-person meetings.
The LeMoyne Center, Cornerstone Care, Washington Health System and the local NAACP coordinated a COVID-19 vaccination program that was held at the LeMoyne Center in March and April. About 35 people received the Moderna vaccine, which requires two shots spaced four weeks apart. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the Moderna shots for people who are at least 18 years old. The program was part of an effort to vaccinate as many people who are minorities as possible, although it was and is available to anyone – registrations are still open (as of the date of publication) by calling 724-228-0260.
The NAACP is the largest and oldest civil rights organization in the U.S. It was formed in the early 1900s to advance justice for African-Americans. On a national level, its efforts include political lobbying, litigation, addressing police misconduct, the status of black foreign refugees and economic development. It is organized locally in many communities throughout America like Washington, PA.
The Washington branch was founded in the early 1900s and, after a period of not being active, was rechartered in the late 1950s. Today, the Washington Branch of the NAACP has about 300 members, Dr. Goudy said. Its work is split among several committees that work on voter registration and getting out the vote, education and legal redress.
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