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Statesboro to host state NAACP leaders

POSTED: January 7, 2014 1:04 a.m.

NAACP leaders from throughout Georgia will meet in downtown Statesboro on Jan. 24 and 25.


The NAACP Georgia State Conference Quarterly Meeting and Civil Rights Institute is coming to the hometown of Francys Johnson, the Statesboro attorney and minister who recently began a two-year term as NAACP state president.


“I’m excited that leaders from across the state are coming to Statesboro,” Johnson said. “I want them to see the good community we have here — not to say it can’t be made better.”


As the first quarterly meeting of 2014, the event will give leaders of NAACP units from across Georgia an opportunity to discuss the association’s legislative agenda and advocacy strategy for the year, he said.


Each quarterly meeting focuses on a different aspect of the NAACP five-point agenda. The five points, called “Game Changers for the 21st Century,” are education, criminal justice, political representation, economic sustainability and health. The Statesboro session will focus on education.


“We will have workshops around access to higher education and also access to equitable, quality primary education as well,” said Demetrius Fisher, acting Georgia NAACP executive director and special assistant to the state conference president.


But other workshops will deal with civic engagement, get-out-the-vote efforts and health issues, especially the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid, he said.


The civil rights organization has booked space in the Averitt Center for the Arts for the Friday-Saturday meeting and its associated workshops, Fisher said. Johnson appointed Fisher in October as the new special assistant, but he has been an NAACP staff member in various capacities since 2004, including a previous tenure as state executive director, and has seen how quarterly meetings go.


“We are expecting anywhere from 300 to 500 people,” Fisher said.


The state conference’s website, www.naacpga.org, lists the Bulloch County branch of the NAACP, its Bulloch County Youth Council and the Georgia Southern University chapter as host units for the quarterly meeting.


These host groups are examples of the three types of local units represented at the quarterly meetings: adult branches, college chapters and youth councils, Fisher noted. In all, the NAACP has 118 units in Georgia, he said. Officers from each are encouraged to attend.


In addition to unit leaders, quarterly meetings typically draw NAACP corporate partners and representatives of organizations that work with the NAACP on various initiatives.


“We will have people from the professional arena, like in health and human services that will be helping us educate folks around Medicaid expansion and health and wellness,” Fisher said. “We will have some folks from our national office that will come in and provide training in civic engagement.”


The meeting will begin with a gathering of the whole group Friday evening and end with another Saturday afternoon, with the smaller workshops between.


Fisher confirmed that Johnson is the reason for the choice of Statesboro. Johnson, 34, a civil rights lawyer and Baptist minister, was elected Oct. 5 at the 71st Annual Georgia NAACP Convention and Civil Rights Conference, held in Columbus. His term as state president began immediately.


“We try to have our first meeting on their turf to kind of uplift the work that needs doing in the community and then really let folks know that we do have a new leader and we want to show some love to his town as well,” Fisher said.

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