In 2019, the Rochester chapter of the NAACP would have celebrated its 100th anniversary.
But the calendar froze in the previous decade and the chapter went dormant.
Now a page has turned and after about a year of concerted effort, Rochester Branch 2172 has reorganized. A virtual general meeting is scheduled for noon, Jan. 16, and elected officers will be sworn in.
“We are just pleased that the citizens in Rochester have stepped up and come together to reactive, to be another voice in the community about the inequities and disparities that exist,” said Hazel Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference.
Richard C. Johnson, membership chair for Rochester, said there’d been efforts over the years to revive the chapter, but for one reason or another each hit a snag.
“I am satisfied that after all the attempts over the last 11 years, we finally brought it back,” said Johnson, who as a high school student was a member of the the NAACP’s Act-So academic achievement program.
He called it a shame that the chapter went dormant and said there is much work to do now that it is back.
Johnson was among a few people who about a year ago began working on parallel tracks to gain community support for the chapter.
Their work started before COVID-19 underscored health disparities and before the police-involved deaths of George Floyd and Daniel Prude sparked new protests against racial injustice.
“We needed it, and not just because of disparities,” said Dr. B.A. Singleton Pradia, who had been investigating what happened to the chapter and how to get it going again.
The two of them, and some others, learned of the complementary efforts and came together in June and momentum grew over the ensuing months.
The chapter needed 100 members to start the process and it has about 200, according to newly elected president Ernest Flagler-Mitchell.
In the absence of an active NAACP chapter, other organizations took up issues of racial injustice. Dukes said she worked with the late Assemblyman David Gantt on issues affecting Rochester.
But she acknowledged there had been a void. She said her vice president who worked with Rochester on reactivation believed the leadership would look at issues of education, criminal justice and health as early priorities.
Flagler-Mitchell, head of the Black and Asian Democratic Caucus of the Monroe County Legislature, said early efforts also include getting young people involved and building relationships with other groups working for racial justice.
Dr. B.A. Singleton Pradia, who also had been working on the chapter, said it can partner with other groups trying to achieve the same goals of political, social, education and economic equality. She raised the prospect of the NAACP branch serving as an umbrella organization.
“These other groups can become members, too,” she said.
For a link to the ceremony, go to General Meeting: The Newly Reactivated NAACP Rochester Branch # 2172 (facebook.com)