Davie NAACP celebrates 70 years

Published 2:57 pm Tuesday, December 12, 2023

At the October 2023 meeting of the Davie County Branch of the NAACP, the group paused to listen to the origin and reflect on the 70 years of work locally.

The national NAACP was organized by an interracial group in 1909; among others issues, lynchings were an atrocity addressed at the time.  Across the years, since 1953, the Davie Branch has also worked for justice.

In response to a court trial 70 years ago in Mocksville, John Adams Smoot said: “We need a local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).”

Knowing the history of all-White juries in the South at the time, justice was not expected when some white males, who were accused of assault on a colored female, were brought before judge and jury.

Being the historian that she is, it’s not surprising Magalene H. Gaither would know the story.

What is astonishing is she has first-hand knowledge since she was an eye witness in the balcony where, as custom would have it at the time, African-Americans were relegated in court houses.

She was the only young adult in the group.

Some others in the balcony named by Mrs. Gaither were: the Rev. George W. Campbell, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church, Mrs. Minnie Campbell, his wife; John Smoot, a member of Mocksville 2nd Presbyterian Church and Dewey Parks, who owned several businesses on East Depot St.

Of the respected leaders, Rev. Campbell, being the most outspoken, was chosen as the first president of the new organization. Of the 10 or 12 African Americans at the trial, Mrs. Gaither is the only one living today.

Mrs. Gaither, as much as anyone else, has kept up with what the Davie County Chapter had done and is doing; she’s told the history and documented it.  For example, in a 1976 article in the Davie Enterprise-Record, she shared the names of charter members and officers over the years. One name that stands out is Connie Y. Cambell.

At 92, Mrs. Campbell has also been a longtime active member of the NAACP. She has served as vice president, president, and chair of The Freedom Fund Committee that plans the Annual Freedom Fund Banquet. An informative speaker, music, humanitarian awards and recognitions of service often take place during the banquet. This is the largest fundraiser, but the January Martin Luther King Celebration Program each year is the largest community event.

The program committee has worked with the Davie County Senior Services in collaboration on Black History Month Programs and Juneteenth.

A portion of the membership dues and fundraising, that includes The Mother of the Year Competitions, also help support state and national activism for civil rights and social justice: environment, education, healthcare, wealth gap and voter issues.

Over the years, The Mebane Foundation, Back to School Empowerment Fund, scholarships, youth activities, get-out-the-vote activities and holiday dinners have been examples of local benelovence.

To this day, in addition to educational programs and speakers at monthly meetings, chairs still keep members informed about community and branch involvement: housing, veteran’s affairs, legal redress, youth initiatives, education, programs and political action.