Earlier this month, the Chapel Hill/Carrboro NAACP was awarded State Branch of the Year honors at the North Carolina NAACP State Convention.

The convention featured speeches by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, and journalist Roland Martin.

Chapel Hill/Carrboro NAACP Vice President James Williams called the award exciting and well-earned.

“I think there’s something like 60 or 70 branches of the NAACP here in North Carolina, and for this branch to win out over all of those branches is something to be proud of,” said Williams.

Williams said that one of the key focuses at the convention was voter suppression – an issue for which he claims North Carolina is “ground zero”.

“Even though there’s been a lot of success in the courts, it is not over,” said Williams. “A lot of attention, work and effort are still going towards addressing [voter suppression] because if there’s one thing we know about this legislature it’s that they don’t give up, they keep coming back, they keep shape-shifting and trying to come at you in some different form.”

Williams cites the ACLU and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice as instrumental allies in the continuing fight against what he calls the state legislature’s unconstitutional gerrymandering and voter-suppression tactics.

Williams and the rest of the Chapel Hill/Carrboro NAACP are currently advocating for the naming of December 6 as “Abolition Day,” commemorating the day in 1865 that the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery was ratified. The NAACP is also planning events for this February, to celebrate Frederick Douglass’ 200th birthday.