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Sentimental Sunday: The Impact of the NAACP on my Family

The 103rd Annual National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Convention that was hosted in Houston this past week (July 7-12, 2012) brought back some wonderful memories of my family’s strong involvement (particularly my dad)  with the NAACP during the 1950’s through the mid 1980’s. The purpose of this organization and assistance from its Legal Defense Fund were the driving forces behind my dad and others being the leaders of a class action law suit against the discriminatory practices of the labor seniority system at Houston Armco Steel Corporation — John TAYLOR et al., Plaintiffs, Alfred James et Al., Intervenors v. ARMCO STEEL CORPORATION et al., Defendants (1973).

Dad was a member of the NAACP Houston Branch Finance Committee along with Monica Kelley, Walter Brown, Sam Polk, and Sam Davis (see photo below).

NAACP Finance Committee, 1980. (left to right) – John Taylor, Monica Kelley, and Walter Brown

He was a long time active member of the Houston Northeast Branch  (see photo below).

Standing (l to r) – Douglas Anderson, Milligan, Ben Adams, John Taylor, Curtis Williams, and George T. Nelson. Sitting (l to r) – Wilma Bright, Rev. Robert Kirby, and Shirley Jones

While cleaning up the book shelf last week, I came across his pocket-size Constitution and By-Laws handbook . . .

of the

1790 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

Spring 1978

(As amended at the 51st Annual NAACP Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, June 1960)

 An annual fundraiser and black-tie gala hosted by the Houston NAACP since 1967 has been its Freedom Fund Dinner (which I understand originated with our first African American Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall). Below is a quick snapshot of my dad’s Freedom Fund Dinner souvenir book from the 13th annual event on 22 February 1980!

Front Cover

Annual Houston NAACP
Freedom Fund Dinner

Theme: Now Is The Time To
Count Our Friends

Friday February 22, 1980 7:30 p.m.

Houston Marriot Hotel
1750 West Loop

This Book Is Dedicated To Mr. George T. Nelson
and Mrs. Christia V. Adair



Fresh Fruit Cocktail
Tossed Green Salad
Sirloin Strip
Baked Potato with Sour Cream
Green Beans Amandine
Rolls and Butter
Apple Pie



Master of Ceremonies: Weldon H. Berry, Esq.


Postal Choir

Junior Life Member:
Elks Antler Guards

Lift Every Voice & Sing                                
Bennie Creswell
Accompanist, Rosemary McGowan

Father Artis

Postal Choir

Marion Jarvis

The Occasion
Billie J. Smith

Honorable Jim McConn
Mayor of Houston

Introduction of Speaker
Dr. Rawls Andrews

Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks
Executive Director, NAACP

Postal Choir

Presentation of Awards              
Honorable Gabriel McDonald
Honorable U.S. District Judge John Peavy, Jr.
District Judge

The Appeal
Helen L. Johnson

Introduction of Special Guests
Allene Alix   



Back Cover

 Lift Every Voice And Sing
National Negro Hymn

James Weldon Johnson                                         R. Rosamond Johnson

Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered;
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou Who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.

  • kristin

    The second verse of “Lift Every Voice” always makes me tear up because I remember my family members that have gone on.

    • I can certainly relate to how you felt. I just hate that I rarely hear that song performed today . . .

  • It’s great to know my family isn’t the only die-hard supporter of the NAACP. Both my parents are Lifetime members. And at 82, my father is still active!

    • WOW! Now that’s what I call real commitment to the organization! As long as I was a minor living at home, my father included me in the annual membership fees. It was after I went away to college and out on my own that I let my membership lapse. But I’m happy to say that I’ve re-joined the organization and look forward to years with them to come!

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