Chairman Roslyn M. Brock addresses the 103rd NAACP Annual Convention
Thank you Vivica! Wow! I am humbled by that introduction – humbled and inspired to do even more to implement the NAACP’s agenda with a sense of urgency.
The standard thing to say when you are introduced by a nine-year old is, “She is our future!” But here she is now, right in the present. When I look at Vivica, I am confident that courage will not skip her generation. Let’s give her another huge round of applause.
Officers and members of the NAACP National Board, President/CEO
Jealous, national office staff, delegates, observers and friends of the
NAACP, welcome to Houston, Texas and the opening session of the 103rd
I’m blessed to have my parents with me tonight and members of my
extended family. Thank you for your unconditional love and support and
especially, your patience with me as I have engaged in this 28 year labor of
love with the NAACP.
This evening, we are here in Houston and it is most fitting that I pay tribute to one of our fallen NAACP members, the Honorable Dr. Annie B. Martin. She left us a legacy of leadership but she also left us the widow’s mite. We thank her, we celebrate her, and we salute her. Thank you Dr. Annie B.!
Also, we remember tonight, our colleague Willis Edwards from Los Angeles, California. We ask you that you keep Willis in your prayers at this very hour. We love you, Willis, and we thank you.
I would be remiss if I did not pay tribute to Mrs. Lulu Belle Madison White, a civil rights heroin who devoted most of her adult life to the struggle against Jim Crow in Texas. She campaigned for the right to vote, for equal pay and for equal work, and for desegregation of public facilities. She is a legend across this state and so it is fitting that the theme of this year’s convention is “NAACP: My Power, My Decision, Vote.”
We can not take these words lightly. As members of the NAACP,we know our history in winning the right to vote for people of color. We also know that many in this convention hall are deeply connected to those who sacrificed and died for that right to vote.
Our right to vote is under attack more than at any time since we
passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We overcame then and we shall
overcome now—but only if we are willing to dedicate ourselves to fighting a
battle that many of us thought we had won.
Four years ago, it was easy to get people excited about the 2008
election. The country was on the brink of economic collapse and a
charismatic leader was rallying us with a message of hope and change.
Millions of Americans exercised their power, made a decision and
voted for change. Election night 2008 was the end of the process for many in our community when it should have been just the beginning. Instead of
exerting our power again in the 2010 midterm elections, many of us stayed
at home and across this land, people who do not share our values or vision
for America won majorities in the Congress and state legislatures. They
immediately passed laws to remove safety net provisions for the poor and
vulnerable, scaled back the rights of workers to organize, restricted women’s rights, attacked the dignity of new immigrants, and—in what proved to be our wake-up call—erected systematic barriers to our right to vote.
In short, they changed the rules of the game. They used their power,
influence and money to distort elections through misinformation. In four
months, it’s game time again and too much is at stake for us to sit on the
sidelines wringing our hands. We have to take action and get back in the
game to make it our own. As the young people say, “don’t hate the players,
change the game!”