Local volunteers needed to protect civil rights

Wilfredo "Wil" Rojas | 2/13/2017, 9:56 a.m.
This month, we are celebrating Black History Month, which marks the accomplishments of our nation’s African American community and its ...
Wil Rojas

This month, we are celebrating Black History Month, which marks the accomplishments of our nation’s African American community and its contribution to making the United States of America, the best country in the world.

In the wake of the inauguration of a president who has fostered a hostile environment in our country among its people, we have a great task before us. The majority of Americans did not vote for this change, but our Electoral College system of electing our chief executive, handed a resounding victory to the new president.

Now, back to Black History Month. The inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, stirred a great sense of pride and collective accomplishment among African Americans and other supporters of equality and justice for all Americans. But the election of the country’s first bi-racial president, with beautiful brown skin, many would argue, was the culmination of the decades-long struggles and resistance waged by African Americans and other American minorities. So, in essence, we are at a point where proponents of civil and human rights have to look back to the civil rights movement to see how far we’ve come, so that we can calculate how far we still have to go.

It was with a great deal of enthusiasm and some nervousness, that I took my oath as 1st Vice President of the Gloucester County NAACP on January 14th, 2017. As many of you may know, the struggle for justice and equal rights for all Americans is not new to me. I have been engaged in civil rights initiatives since grade school, when I, along with other Black and Brown students, walked out of class to protest racial and ethnic hatred. I realized then, and recognize now, that people of color must continue fighting for equality and justice against powerful economic and political interests. I also believe that we have the right to use all the peaceful means at our disposal against those powerful forces who are intent on rolling back the gains our ancestors made in building a more equal, integrated and just America for all its citizens.

The civil rights activists of the past, particularly those engaged in the 1960’s and '70’s, used attention grabbing tactics to bring attention to the discriminatory and hate driven government policies of those times. The tactics used, at times, resulted in police provoked confrontations that resulted in savage beatings, incarceration, and even murder of the people who were driven by their Christian passion to work for peace and justice. Today, as we did 107 years ago, still have a proven powerful resource in the history of African Americans in South Jersey and the nation through the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).

Throughout January, many of the NAACP branches completed the installation of their leadership team and are ready to continue our struggle against inequality and injustice.

Over the years, it has been my privilege to get to know many movers and shakers and civil rights activists and supporters throughout South Jersey. In my new role in the organization, I hope to come to know more of you. If I am to be successful in my work as 1st Vice President of the Gloucester County branch, I will certainly need your patience, kindness, advice, and especially your prayers. With God’s grace, and the strong support and guidance from Gloucester County NAACP President, Loretta Winters, I trust that we will continue to grow together as a trusting community of diverse backgrounds, looking to improve communities throughout South Jersey and beyond through equality and justice for ALL the PEOPLE.

You are invited to an opportunity to be of service to the efforts of the NAACP. We need volunteers to promote our goals as people of color in what many say, will be a hostile and divisive environment in our nation. Please email Lwinters1010@gmail.com for additional information on how you can join the NAACP and help us with the ton of work we have before us.

Wilfredo "Wil" Rojas is Special Assistant to Loretta Winters, President of Gloucester County NAACP and 2nd Vice President of the New Jersey State Conference NAACP.