A new civic organization will unveil itself to the community this weekend, with a mission to create a united voice for the black community.
“There are so many injustices in our community, and as much as we try to hide the fact that a lot of them are done against African-Americans, the reality is they are,” said Darrel “B.J.” Gibson, pastor of Nazareth Missionary Baptist Church and a member of the Scotland County Board of Education. “There are issues in our school system that exist, and … the issues in our city government and county government, that may not be intended to be against the African-American community, seem as though they are attacks.”
Gibson is the president of the newly-formed Scotland County Civic League, a group inspired by the model of the Hoke County Civic League. Members of the Scotland County Civic League hope to bring together religious groups, individual churches, and the NAACP and enable them to present a united front when it comes to local issues.
“We have a lot of different groups that function here in our community, and we saw that for Hoke County, it was a collaboration of all of their groups to create one group,” Gibson said. “This is an opportunity for all of our organizations to come together under one umbrella, because we’re all working for the same cause.”
The civic league, currently comprised of some 50 members, also aims to create a greater role for public opinion in the decisions of elected officials.
“People are not being held accountable for their activities, and much of it’s done on a personal level,” said Robert Malloy, former president of the Scotland County NAACP and a member of the Scotland County Civic League’s executive board. “We want to start holding people accountable - if they don’t do what’s good for the community, not only will we get them out of office, we’ll have somebody to replace them.”
Group members also mentioned several recent instances where minorities were apparently overlooked, such as the school board’s election of Jamie Sutherland to fill James Underwood’s unexpired term and the city council’s failure to name interim police chief Kim Monroe as permanent chief of police though interim fire chief Randy Gibson was sworn in as permanent fire chief last month. Both positions were vacated at the same time last year with the retirement of John Evans. Monroe is black and and Gibson is white.
“The issue with the police chief, we shouldn’t have to be that vocal because we’ve got the city council in order that we, the public who have elected them, would have confidence in them to do the right thing as far as the community is concerned,” Malloy said.
The civic league plans to form a political action committee, as well as committees dedicated to education and social issues. In May, the group will dedicate its efforts to voter registration.
“In our shopping centers, Main Street, churches, just all across the community we’re having voter registration drives so that we can make sure that Scotland County is 100 percent voter registered and ready for our next election,” said Gibson.
The league will hold its “Come Spring Into Action” banquet at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Storytelling and Arts Center. The banquet will include dinner, a performance by the Day and Night jazz band, and a presentation by Matthew Rouse, Jr., president of the Hoke County Civic League. Some 50 tickets, at $25 each, are still available.
Membership in the civic league is open to county residents of all races, and the annual membership fee is $60.