Civil rights organization opens new northern Macomb branch

By: Kara Szymanski | C&G Newspapers | Published April 5, 2021

 LEFT: Pamela Alexander is the president of the Northern Macomb County Branch, NAACP. RIGHT: Tristam Craig, the first vice president of the Northern Macomb County Branch, NAACP, was supportive and thought starting the branch was a good idea from the beginning.

LEFT: Pamela Alexander is the president of the Northern Macomb County Branch, NAACP. RIGHT: Tristam Craig, the first vice president of the Northern Macomb County Branch, NAACP, was supportive and thought starting the branch was a good idea from the beginning.

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MACOMB COUNTY — On March 14, after many months of organizing, petitioning and training, and in accordance with all NAACP bylaws, the Northern Macomb County Branch of the NAACP has officially been established and is ready to serve in local communities.

The branch will serve 17 communities generally north of M-59 in northern Macomb County.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP reported that it has more than 2,200 units and branches across the nation, along with more than 2 million activists.

On Feb. 23, the Northern Macomb County Branch of the NAACP held elections virtually, with the president of the NAACP Michigan State Conference, Yvonne White, officiating the process.

The 17 locations the branch will serve are Armada, Armada Township, Bruce Township, Chesterfield Township, Lenox Township, Macomb Township, Memphis, New Baltimore, Village of New Haven, Ray Township, Richmond, Richmond Township, Village of Romeo, Shelby Township, Sterling Heights, Utica and Washington Township.

The events of 2020, including the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, in addition to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black communities, led local community members toward organizing marches and forming the branch.

Pamela Alexander, president, Northern Macomb County Branch, NAACP, said the group already has a mission stated for the organization.

“Our mission is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons. Also, it’s important to know the Northern Macomb County Branch NAACP is very diverse and is a non-partisan organization,” Alexander said via email.

The Northern Macomb County Branch NAACP Executive Committee includes six officers and four at-large members.

The elected officers are: Alexander; Tristam Craig, first vice president; Chantelle Adkins, second vice president; John Tinsley, third vice president; Julie Alward, treasurer; and Shannon Debono, secretary.

Members at large for the Executive Committee are: Christy Seitz, Emily Mellits, Brandon Foitu, and Aaron Krueger.

On March 27, the unit held a virtual installation ceremony with Michigan attorney Saleema Sheikh administering the oaths. Many local and state government officials, police departments, school officials and more received an email invitation to the event.

Alexander said the main mission of the organization is to fight for the rights of the people.

“We have organized this Branch to address the needs of all people and their civil rights and human rights. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was organized in 1909 and has already fought for the rights of black people,” she said.

Alexander said the group is already receiving attention and growing.

“We have over 120 members and we receive inquiries about memberships almost daily,” she said.

The group will be working to form a basic layout of the organization for Macomb County.

The Executive Committee will be meeting on April 12 for its first meeting since the installation ceremony.

“We will be working together to establish the Branch agenda for 2021 with a focus on: Voting Rights, Voter Suppression, Political Representation, Public Safety and Criminal Justice Equitable dispensation of justice for all,” said Alexander.

Executive Committee meetings will be held at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month, and the general meetings will be held at 7 p.m. on the third Monday of each month.

Announcements and updates regarding the meetings and events generally will be posted on Facebook.    

“We hope to have our website up and running shortly and you can follow us on Twitter,” Alexander said.

Craig said that when he first heard of the branch forming, he thought it was a great idea, and then after he started getting involved, he knew it was something that was needed in the Macomb County area.

“Initially, I was supportive and thought it was a good idea. Then, after getting involved last summer with a few BLM marches and supporting other marginalized groups in their protest efforts, it became very clear that this was a very necessary Branch, especially in the North Macomb area,” he said in an email.

The branch is very diverse.

“This is more than Black and White. This involves and supports various diverse cultural, religious, ethnic groups and embraces inclusion of all groups and multiculturalism,” he said.

“It has a lot to do with building stronger cultural and social relationships within and through all cultural groups and acceptance of all populations through inclusion, treating all individuals with dignity, acceptance and respect regardless of our differences. People may learn there are more similarities than differences if we give each other a chance to learn more about each other. We are here to rebuild bridges, not tearing them down, and this can only be done through finding common ground and working together from there. It’s all about effective communication,” said Craig.

General members as well as anyone with ties to the community who is interested in joining the Northern Macomb County Branch of the NAACP are welcome to participate in general meetings. Until it is deemed safe to discontinue COVID-19 safety protocols, all Northern Macomb County Branch meetings and events will be conducted virtually.    

For more information, email nmacombnaacp@gmail.com or visit its Twitter page.

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