Local

SLO County’s NAACP chapter may soon be up and running again

President Barack Obama addresses the 106th annual NAACP National Convention at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia on July 14, 2015. Local advocates are attempting to reactivate a local chapter of the NAACP.
President Barack Obama addresses the 106th annual NAACP National Convention at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia on July 14, 2015. Local advocates are attempting to reactivate a local chapter of the NAACP. TNS

After years of inactivity, a group of local organizers are planning to reactivate the San Luis Obispo County chapter of the NAACP.

Preston Allen, one of five coordinators behind the effort, said the group has begun reaching out to the community and is making progress. It needs at least 60 people to sign up and pay a $30 membership fee, which includes a magazine and other perks, in order to be chartered by the national organization.

“We’ve received a lot of interest and support, a lot of affirmatives,” Allen said. “People want to know how and where they can get involved. We’re in the process of putting that together.”

Allen said he doesn’t know precisely when a local NAACP chapter last operated, but he believes it was in the mid-1990s.

We’ve received a lot of interest and support, a lot of affirmatives. People want to know how and where they can get involved. We’re in the process of putting that together.

Preston Allen, co-organizer of local NAACP chapter

The organizers have established a website, a Facebook page and a Twitter account, saying “Our mission is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.”

“The launch team committee has been meeting monthly and has reached out to various community leaders to discuss issues unifying our collective interest,” said Stephen Vines, one of the organizers. “The committee’s focus is on locking arms with others against discrimination and segregation in all areas of our community. The committee also has a goal to organize events that bring all communities together and celebrate our rich heritage.”

Among the local leaders with whom the group has met is Heidi Harmon, who ran her San Luis Obispo mayoral campaign in support of inclusion and diversity. She has expressed her support for the local NAACP chapter on her Facebook page, receiving 217 likes as of Friday.

“So excited to have joined the newly back in SLO NAACP!” Harmon wrote. “They are coming back and will no doubt be better than ever. I hope that you will consider joining and standing with them.”

We’ve received a lot of interest and support, a lot of affirmatives. People want to know how and where they can get involved. We’re in the process of putting that together.

Stephen Vines, co-organizer of local NAACP chapter

The group has begun planning mixers in North County, San Luis Obispo and South County. They hope social and formal events will help bring the community together behind the common cause of civil rights.

“We want people to come together and not to be strangers,” Allen said. Developing relationships, networking and promoting community outreach will help to address problems that arise and create a welcoming atmosphere, he said.

“We want people to stay here,” Allen said. “We want them to feel comfortable.”

For more information about the effort, email naacpslocty@gmail.com.

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