Charleston Branch NAACP Celebrates Centennial


Scott Pippin

Charleston welcomed Joe Biden into town this past weekend, but not for the same reason he visited over eight years ago today with friend and running-mate Barack Obama. Biden, who has visited the city a plethora of times since his election as Vice-President in 2008, was in town for a rather unusual occasion. The Charleston branch NAACP, founded in April of 1917, celebrated its centennial on Saturday night at the Gaillard Banquet Hall with the Freedom Fund Banquet. The event brought a number of notable politicians and advocates from across the state and country, including South Carolina Representative Bakari Sellers, Charleston NAACP President Dot Scott, Current Mayor Tecklenburg and former Mayor Riley, and of course, keynote speaker and former Vice-President Joe Biden. Aside from celebrating a century of activism and addressing the current status of the NAACP, a number of local activists and notable contributors to African-American society received awards from Joe Biden. The father of current senior Earl Navarro, Ben Navarro, was one of the recipients, receiving the Septima P. Clark for his outstanding work with Meeting Street Academy.

As a guest at this event, I was able to witness Vice-President Biden and several others speak about their reflections of the last century and their hopes for the coming century. Bakari Sellers initially approached the podium and spoke of the several figures onstage who would be addressing the crowd of hundreds throughout the evening. The speeches were kicked off by the playing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as the Black American National Anthem, a song written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson in 1899. The song, echoed by attendees chanting the lyrics, left the crowd inspired for the addresses to come. Though speeches came from politicians such as State Senator Marlon Kimpson to Boeing CEO of Governmental Affairs Tim Keating, all carried a message of thanks and hope for a future of promise and further legislation to protect the interests of African Americans in the community and across the nation. A special touch to the night occurred during the crowning of the Centennial Queen, a 100 year old woman seated at the table next to mine. When dinner was wrapping up and a majority of the speakers had presented, Joe Biden stepped up to the plate after countless recognitions. In his passionate address to the audience, Biden acknowledged his love for the city and its efforts to advance with the times. Particularly evident was his frustration with the current President Donald J. Trump, whom he believes should motivate communities and individuals to stand up for their rights against any oppressive acts of the government. Cries of “Hallelujah!” and “2020” rang out throughout the crowd, demonstrating the unanimous agreement with the 47th Vice-President of the United States. And as The Honorable Mr. Biden left the room with his smiles and handshakes; the event came to an end, leaving a resounding sense of satisfaction among the individuals who witnessed his thirty minute discourse.