President’s Message- January 2021 What Happens Next?

Walt Williams

As the clock strikes and the Sun rises bearing witness to the election of a new President, I believe this administration has committed itself to be more inclusive and forward-thinking. The issues of closing the gap of health care disparities, eliminating bad cops from the police forces, inequality institutional racism, and violence in our communities will not resolve themselves merely by the passage of time.  A tectonic shift in our thinking and approach is what the new administration promises.

The insurrection event in our nation’s capital on January 6th provided the final nail to the coffin of the current administration.  Like you, I was appalled as I watched with disbelief and stunned silence as the events played out in real-time.  The official National NAACP’s position is: “This incident reflects the latest of the President’s failed leadership, we witnessed the Capitol under siege by bad actors who had no other objective than to disrupt the constitutional proceedings of a fair and rightful transition of power. Those responsible must be held accountable for their actions that placed members of congress, the VP elect, and staffers in harm’s way.”

Natasha Alford, journalist, digital host, and millennial media executive. summarized the insurrection as an assault on our democracy, and coup incited by President Trump best when she said, “When Black Americans talk about generational trauma and terror families this is what we mean.   That energy, you saw at the Capitol is the same energy that burned down Black towns, lynched Black citizens, and ensured slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation were encoded into American life.

Regardless of your opinion on the outcome of the national election, the election has been certified by congress and the new administration will be sworn in on January 20th.  It’s time to move on and concentrate on the issues that keep our communities from being our utopias.

The vitriol that appears in the media is counterproductive from both the far left and the far right in unifying our country.  To disassociate ourselves from the lack of civility, integrity, and reestablish our dignity on the world stage from the past four years we must become an America where citizenship means the same to everyone and where humanitarianism is served in world-class proportions.  ​ This will allow citizens to mend the fragile fabric that ​binds us.  How do we accomplish this?

Equity and Equality make us all mighty and noble flotilla of ships, sailing the Seas of this society and providing opportunities for all citizens.  Equality and equity may be inherently different but are also bound together.  In order to create true equality of opportunity, equity is needed to ensure that everyone has the same chance of getting there.

I believe citizenship is not passive, citizenship involves a commitment from you to make our community better.  This implies getting involved and engaged.  The coronavirus’ restrictions on public gatherings have made it easier for the public to listen in on how your government performs.

Locally, we can address the health inequalities by encouraging all citizens to get vaccinated.  African Americans have been disproportionately impacted by the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic and are the most hesitant to take the vaccine.  The vaccine is an important step for the community to get the COVID-19 restrictions lifted.  I was on a conference call with Teresa Haley, State president for Illinois NAACP where she discussed the hesitation within the African American Communities to take the Coronavirus vaccine.  She directed the branch presidents to provide webinars and zoom meetings to enlighten our communities on the importance of getting vaccinated.  Within the next three weeks, the Edwardsville Branch will be hosting a Coronavirus Town hall to get the word out about the effectiveness and the safety of the vaccine.

Recently, the Mayor for the City of Edwardsville reported on the finding of the Race Relations and Equity Committee.  In this report, the Mayor outlined items the committee believed would make our community more inviting to minorities.   We cannot let this report sit on the shelf.  It appears as a notice on the City’s website.  Take a few minutes to read it. What can you contribute to this conversation?   If you are asked to serve, serve.  If you want to serve, ask.

All of the protests over the past nine months have heightened the awareness of the racial inequity in our communities.  Eyes have been opened.  Citizens that did not think these issues existed now realize they do.  What will you do to be part of the solution?

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The Edwardsville NAACP has a long history of working together with civic leaders, community members, businesses, and judiciaries to make our beautiful city more equitable for all. We continue to have great success in accomplishing our goals, and we invite all to join us in this great work!

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