Bay County Branch National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the largest & oldest, the most feared, & the most revered, the most hated & the most loved, & the most often imitated but never duplicated grassroots-based civil rights organization in America. It was founded on February 12, 1909 in New York City. The association was established partly in response to the continuing horrific practice of lynching and the 1908 race riots in Springfield, Illinois. The organization was built on the premise that all men and women are created equal. The charter members were a diverse group of activists comprised of people of different races, faiths and nationalities. The central focus of the early pioneers was to secure for all people the rights guaranteed in the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the United States Constitution, which promised an end to slavery, equal protection of the law and universal adult male suffrage respectively.
The decade of the 1940s was an era of racial tension in America. Race related riots occurred in nearly 50 cities across the nation. World War II impelled Blacks to be much more zealous about obtaining their political, economic and social rights. Black newspapers across the country envisioned the “Double V Campaign.” The central focus of the campaign was victory over both America’s enemies, abroad and over racial segregation at home. While the war was going on, social pressure increased to end racial segregation. During the said period, the NAACP increased the percentage of Black registered voters in the South from 2 to 12 percent. Together with this, the membership of the NAACP grew from 18,000 prior to the war to 500,000 at the conclusion of the war.
The founding president of the Bay County Branch NAACP was the late Mr. E. W. Edwards who was a pioneer and trailblazer for civil rights. He promoted the virtue of solidarity. He put forth a purposeful effort to unite the Black community behind a vision of hope and prosperity. He encouraged the leaders of the Branch and other community-based organizations to work together for the greater good of all. He promoted racial pride by challenging Blacks to create solutions to problems affecting their families and neighborhoods. He also promoted racial progress by challenging Blacks to be engaged in the work of political advocacy to gain inclusion into the social life of society. The odds were stacked against him and those he led. Yet he had the audacity to work and hope for a better future. A solid foundation was laid for the Bay County Branch NAACP which has caused it to survive great obstacles and opposition for more than 7 decades.
The late rev. Thomas J. Jones served as president of the branch during the late 1940’s and the early 1950’s. The Rev. Jones is remembered as a civil rights activist who confronted numerous social evils in the community. He was a man of vision. With insight he saw a variety of injustices. With foresight he envisioned for Blacks a higher quality of health care at the Memorial Hospital, removal of barriers to enfranchisement and former U. S. military members treated like first-class citizens. Additionally, he had a vision to equip and empower the next generation. Under his administration, the Bay County NAACP Youth Council was established. The Rev. Jones worked diligently to ensure that young people would be prepared to take the reins in the ongoing fight for equality. The work was slow, painstaking and challenging, but the branch made progress under the administration of the Rev. Jones.
During the early 1950s the late Rev. Paul Lynn Glover rendered dedicated service as president of the branch. Jim Crow laws ruled and dominated Bay County at this time. But the Rev. Glover was a godly and gallant leader who pushed for legal and political actions to challenge and destroy the invisible wall of racial segregation. He fought racism through advocating for both civil rights and political rights. The Rev. Glover and his contemporaries were subjected to unjust laws and customs which were specifically designed to prevent the improvement of their status and keep them from achieving equality. Yet they risked their livelihood, safety and lives confronting the racial status quo. A chilling bomb threat was made against Rev. Glover and his parishioners at the New Bethel M. B. Church. This action was designed to frighten and intimidate. Nevertheless, the Rev. Glover remained fully committed to the struggle.
The Rev. Glover also upheld the spirit of self-help by leading branch members and community members to take an active role in improving their community. He influenced the branch to partner with the Negro Improvement Association and the Negro Women Civic Club to labor faithfully for community development and social change. The Rev. Glover served his generation well and helped to pave the way for social transformation in Bay County.
The late Rev. Elijah Jones succeeded the Rev. Paul Lyn Glover and took up the challenge of the presidency of the Bay County Branch NAACP in the late 1950s. He was a community-oriented pastor and a civil rights activist. With his booming voice he challenged the social evils of his time. He dared to speak the truth prophetically to political power on behalf of the down-trodden in society. The Rev. Jones played a key role in putting the spotlight on racism in Bay County and demanding change.
Rev. Jones was frequently stopped by White law enforcement officers. He endured numerous unpleasant experiences of being harassed by White police who were determined to disrupt, discredit and neutralize the work of the NAACP. Besides this, the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross in the yard of the Greater Bethel AME Church where Rev. Jones served as pastor. He took a bold stance against despicable actions of expressed intimidation against Blacks and other minorities. He also exposed and denounced the efforts of the Bay County Citizens Council. Their aim was to maintain the Southern way of life and fight the progress of the NAACP. The Rev. Jones was uniquely gifted to serve his congregation, community and the Bay County Branch NAACP. He was successful in making a difference in the social order.
Next the presidential mantle was placed on the late Rev. Timothy Youngblood, Sr. who provided leadership for the branch during the early 1960’s. He faithfully led and served as president during a very difficult and dangerous era. It was a period of great conflict in which racial segregation was at its utmost. As a result of his strong leadership, the branch played a pivotal role in breaking the backbone of “Jim Crow’s” power in Bay County. Segregated lunch counters were opened to Blacks and public schools were eventually desegregated. The high price for this social transformation included civil disobedience, arrest of NAACP adults and youth, advocacy at city hall, activism at the Florida State Capital and federal social justice litigation in the U. S. District Court and the U. S. Appeals Court. The Rev. Youngblood’s leadership and activism helped to change the course of history in Bay County.
The late Rev. Jackson Earl Jones succeeded Rev. Youngblood as president of the branch. He provided leadership for the branch during the 1960’s, the 1970’s and the 1980’s. He was affectionately referred to as “Pastor Jones” … a title bestowed upon him by members of the community, because with a shepherd’s heart, he demonstrated authentic love and compassion for people. He viewed justice and peace as an integral part of his mission as a branch president and as a Black minister.
One of the hallmarks of his presidency was his passion and compassion exhibited during Sunday night Community Mass meetings. He led the branch in hosting mass meetings to address racial injustices and inequalities in the public-school system, city government, county government, state government and the criminal justice system. He served the branch, the church and the community with the conviction that all people deserve justice, peace and wholeness. Pastor Jones advocated for change in the systems that promoted poverty, hunger, addictions and violence. Pastor Jones was a bridge-building leader who laid aside individual, social, political, economic and cultural differences to work for the benefit of all. He left an indelible mark on the Bay County community. He will always be remembered as an ambassador for justice who advocated for social, legal, political and cultural changes to prohibit discrimination.
After more than 2 decades as president, the Rev. Jones passed the baton of the presidency to his protégé, the late Rev. Lemuel David Glover, Sr. As branch president the Rev. Glover took the baton of leadership and followed in the footsteps of his father the late Rev. Paul Lyn Glover. He led the branch during the 1980’s and the 1990’s. The Rev. Glover distinguished himself as a visionary leader. With his imagination, insight and boldness he led the branch to a new level. He led the branch in realizing many of his dreams. Dreams such as a quarterly African American newspaper known as “The Drum”, “The African American Office Library”, and “The Black Santa Claus Project.” Along with this, the Rev. Glover led the branch in empowering the community by sponsoring financial planning workshops, voter registration drives and empowerment rallies. He was a gifted leader who believed in translating strategy into action. Under his leadership, the branch and the community witnessed positive change.
Following the tenure of the Rev. Lemuel David Glover, Sr., Mr. Herbert Howard was chosen as president of the branch. He led the branch from the 1990’s until 2006. His practical values of integrity, accountability, transparency, discipline, perseverance, punctuality and orderliness became the core values of the branch. Mr. Howard used his technical skills to help the branch stay relevant in a changing landscape. He led the branch in cultivating constructive relationships with community partners. Mr. Howard was media literate and understood the influence of mass media on society. He led the branch in producing both a TV show and radio show called “Drum Beat.” Drum Beat focused on critical social justice issues.
In January 2006, Mr. Howard led the branch in addressing social injustice in the juvenile justice system. The branch became involved in its most high-profile case. A case which captured headlines around the world. The Bay County Branch NAACP stood with the Florida State Conference NAACP and the Florida Black Legislative Caucus in demanding justice for the horrendous death of 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson, who was tragically killed at the Bay County Juvenile Boot Camp. With Mr. Howard’s quality leadership, the branch continued to advance.
In 2006, Mrs. Carolyn Mosley broke the gender barrier and became the first female elected as president of the Bay County Branch NAACP. She served as president from 2006 until 2008. Mrs. Mosley stood in solidarity with civil rights and spiritual leaders in calling for the U. S. Justice Department to investigate the Martin Lee Anderson case. Mrs. Mosley recognized the vital role that education plays in shaping tomorrow’s leaders. With this recognition, she kept her eye on preparing the next generation of leaders. Mrs. Mosley led the branch in establishing a scholarship fund for graduating high school seniors. Mrs. Mosley wanted to make sure that students possess the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the work force of the future. Her actions broadened the horizon for many and aided in the development of exemplary leaders.
The current president of the branch is the Rev. Dr. Rufus L. Wood, Jr. He was elected in 2008 and has provided leadership until the present. President Wood leads the branch to focus on the NAACP’s 21st Century Strategic Plan and Game Changers. These Game Changers address the main areas of inequality facing African Americans today. Economic Sustainability-equal opportunity to achieve economic success, sustainability and financial security! Education-A free, High quality equitably funded public education for all! Health-Equal access to affordable high-quality health care! Public safety & Criminal Justice-Equitable dispensation of justice for all! Voting Rights & Political Representation-Free, open, equal and protected access to the vote and fair representation at all levels of the political process!
President Wood has led the branch in reorganizing the youth council, strengthening the standing branch committees, holding public elected officials accountable, fostering education at Oscar Patterson Elementary School, presenting back-to-school bashes, addressing the school-to-prison pipeline, registering citizens for insurance covered under the Affordable Care Act, providing disaster relief in the wake of natural disasters, establishing a community civic engagement coalition, sponsoring candidates forums, facilitating entrepreneur workshops, hosting town hall meetings and promoting the “Get Out The Vote” (GOTV) campaigns.
The Bay County Branch NAACP believes that our history matters. It matters because we can’t know who we are, unless we know who we were. Our history matters because it connects us to the past, explains our present and provides a glance through the window of the future. We reflect on our past with the aim of understanding our present. We understand our present in order to guide our future. The Bay County Branch NAACP has spent more than three fourths of a century working to eliminate racial hatred. Currently the Bay County Branch NAACP remains steadfast and unmovable. We proudly share this glimpse of our rich history. As we move forward, we will honor our past, celebrate our present and embrace our future. We will not stop until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.