Haywood NAACP kicks off Freedom Summer

By DeeAnna Haney | Jun 25, 2014
Sam Tyson speaks to the Haywood NAACP.

The Haywood NAACP will be getting some help in boosting membership and voter registration this summer thanks to a statewide initiative called the Freedom Summer program that began this month.

The goal is to place a young "organizer" in counties across the state to deepen coalition building of meaning and power in communities of people who are often marginalized.

It was organized to mark the 50th anniversary of the Mississippi Freedom Summer, a 1964 campaign that brought African-Americans together to register to vote in a state that had historically excluded most blacks from voting.

Hundreds of college students went to Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio that summer for a week-long training and orientation before heading to Mississippi to register African-Americans to vote. They were trained in how to survive and how to reach out to poor people in the Southern state who had given up on ever seeing any progress against racial oppression and injustice.

The efforts brought violent resistance and by the end of the 10-week project, three black Mississippi residents were murdered, four civil rights workers were killed and about 80 others were beaten.

This year, 50 years later, several dozen college students met at Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, North Carolina, for a week-long orientation session starting June 9. They are now deploying to counties across the state for organizing work and voter registration through the Forward Together Movement's Moral Freedom Summer.

Joining efforts with the Haywood NAACP unit is Sam Tyson, who is a student at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He will be spending much of his summer reaching out to Haywood County residents and playing a key role in the local NAACP's goals as a chapter.

Tyson's father is Tim Tyson, a writer and historian specializing in the issues of culture, religion and race associated with the Civil Rights movement. He is the author of "Blood Done Sign My Name," and a longtime professor at Duke University.

The NAACP in Haywood County is only about five months old, said Chuck Dickson, president of the local unit. It and is not considered a chapter until membership reaches 100 people. They are getting close, however, with around 90 members and part of Tyson's job will be bolstering membership in the county.

Tyson said he will be starting his summer by getting to know NAACP members, their needs and their goals and figuring out ways to achieve those goals.

Dickson said among some of the goals the Haywood NAACP members seek are legislative support to expand Medicaid, rehire teacher assistants, stop regressive cuts to teachers, public school and community colleges and put an end to fracking.

He said there have also been attacks on voting by eliminating pre-registration for teens, eliminating same-day registration, cutting back on early voting and stricter voter I.D. requirements.

"Race is a significant factor in these decisions," Dickson said. "Just as in 1964, today's suppression of voting rights has a direct effect on African-Americans, Latinos and young people. We can't and we will not let them roll back our rights."

Tyson has been an active Moral Monday supporter and was arrested last year as a part of one of the protests that addressed some of the issues Dickson mentioned.

"This is a broad coalition. I'm here to tailor my efforts to this community," Tyson said.

Tyson said he also plans to get out and dribble a basketball around town and try to get to know the local youth and their needs. From what he gathers from the community, Tyson and the local NAACP members will hold activities for youth empowerment, though he's not sure what those activities will be just yet.

"I look forward to meeting all the local members," Tyson said.

Comments (11)
Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jun 25, 2014 09:12

Is this a joke?  "The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination." 


Someone please tell me how putting an end to fracking will eliminate race-based discrimination!  Just stop.  This is ridiculous.  I hope "colored people" (the "CP" part of the NAACP) sees right through this political hack job and they focus locally on things that relate to their mission stated above.  I would be thrilled if someone in the NAACP were to rebuff this Democratic joke with some empowering messages from the right-wing: equal opportunities beat handouts all day long!

Posted by: Katherine Bartel | Jun 25, 2014 09:57

The NAACP does not have any political alliances. As they always say, "We have no permanent friends, just permanent issues."  The NAACP does care about the environment--does it not affect everyone? They care about all the things that affect people's lives.

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jun 25, 2014 10:42

"NAACP does care about the environment" -- Ok.  Members of the American Dental Association also care about the environment -- but the American Dental Association has a purpose and mission for things related to dentistry -- not the environment.


Perhaps a Democrat Activist has improperly associated HIS values/purpose/mission with that of the NAACP.  More closely reading this, the article seems to be mostly about Mr. Tyson and his interests are directed toward the NAACP.


Though I would give more credibility to the local NAACP if the local unit's president were to stay on mission.  When I see Mr. Dickson only claiming support for issues that are left-wing/Democratic, I interpret that as "political alliances".  True, this implied bias could be the writer and not the NAACP.


"Dickson said among some of the goals the Haywood NAACP members seek are..." --  What are some of the goals the Haywood NAACP members seek that are considered right-wing or Republican?

Posted by: Katherine Bartel | Jun 25, 2014 18:29

The NAACP cares about the U.S. Constitution. That effort includes voting rights, health care for all, education for all children, support of public schools, care for the environment that we all must share, strengthening the middle class, the reform of criminal justice and the prison system, and many other issues that affect all Americans. Since when does one political party have a monopoly on caring about people?

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jun 25, 2014 18:46

Let me try proposing something I think the NAACP would support and see if anyone would object:


The NAACP ought to promote fair and equal opportunity that does not discriminate on economic, religious, gender, or race.  Further, the NAACP values the protection provided by a fair system of government run by free people which should not allow a voting majority to exploit a minority.


"Since when does one political party have a monopoly on caring about people?" -- Honestly, I think both parties care about people; they just go about it in different ways.

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Jun 26, 2014 07:37

     Where there is due regard for individual liberty there will be justice. Where there is justice there will be peace. Prosperity may follow.



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Jun 26, 2014 07:55

           I am acquainted with Chuck Dixon. He seems to be a fair man to me. Not a "political operative".

            We the people own OUR environment. We own it. We have the obligation to ensure its protection for US immediatly and to not violate the obligations to OUR "posterity", to ensure in their "enjoyment of life", we must ensure a safe and healthy environment for OUR future. Fracking is highly questionable.

                My experience with any Civil rights organization is that they help all people inclusively from the bottom up. While opposing people take the view that the disadvantaged get "handouts" and should kiss the ring of those forced to give them, Civil rights groups help any and all with no judgment involved whatsoever.

               As We are all mere fallible human beings, bigotry will be with US always. How oppressive it becomes relies on US to address.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jun 26, 2014 08:37

"...opposing people take the view that the disadvantaged..."


There are three pillars for the disadvantaged: the government safety net, charity, and equal opportunity.  They should not be compiled into a single discussion. 


The government safety net is just that.  It ought to be "no way to live" and a standard of life that nobody would choose -- or more importantly, everyone would be highly motivated to escape.  If people are content taking a premature disability check, extended unemployment check, or food stamp assistance, that is an indicator that the safety net programs are too generous.


Charity is an important factor in dealing with the disadvantaged.  This should not be government sponsored and society can always do more here.  Most of today's viewpoints are: "government is doing enough so therefore we don't need as much charity."  As America is long past broke, government safety net programs will be required to shrink.  As that happens, we all need to pick up on the charity part.  That's money and time -- for those that can't afford the money part.


Lastly: equal opportunity.  If a safety net program is "unpalatable" and undesirable so that the disadvantaged want to get out of it, they will need fair opportunities.  Ideally, well-off folks can work with the disadvantaged to learn how to find and take opportunities that will better their lives -- in the case that the parents of the disadvantaged did not teach them or have the skills to teach them.  That's why I appreciate the Circles of Hope program and the "social enterprise" things I've read about here.  Or perhaps, people can attend the entrepreneur camp at HCC that would put that skill in a tool belt to use one day when opportunity knocks.  :-)


Let's take a look at the NAACP.  I don't see them as a charitable organization.  I doubt they are looking for handouts.  Although I believe more "colored people" percentage-wise are in the government safety net programs, I think the NAACP would advocate getting out of the government programs more than advocating more or expanded use of the programs.  So I would make the case that the NAACP would be most in favor of ensuring equal opportunity for the advancement of colored people.  And there is where you squarely hit where Republicans and right-wingers of today are concerned.  Although I like to think today's Republicans are not discriminatory towards colored people, I know without someone watching, discrimination can creep in -- even unintentionally.  For that, I value the NAACP's position and role.  I cringe when I see the NAACP go off-mission to talk about fracking.


(Note: I use the term "colored people" in reference to the CP in NAACP.  I think perhaps that term might be dated.)

Posted by: Katherine Bartel | Jun 26, 2014 08:48

Because the NAACP cares about the environment, we are promoting the film showing this weekend at The Strand, 38 Main St., Waynesville: "Beasts of the Southern Wild." See their website at http://www.38main.com/ for details. This film is an engaging story about a community threatened by climate change, and it won lots of awards. Some screenings will offer a discussion following the film.

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jun 26, 2014 09:09

"a community threatened by climate change" -- Ok.  But remember the story is fictional.  And remember that "climate change" has been around -- well since it made the dinosaurs extinct.  And at the end of the ice age -- when there wasn't a single car or coal plant to blame.  Taking care of the environment is a good thing.


Looks like a good movie.  Has a "Where The Wild Things Are" feel to the trailer.   And I LOVE that movie theatre!


Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Jun 26, 2014 14:05

   Thank God We are not represented by the uninformed Mr. lilly!!!



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