Greater Grand Rapids NAACP celebrating centennial

Oct 18, 2019

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Credit flickr

The Greater Grand Rapids chapter of the NAACP is celebrating its 100th Anniversary. Of the 2,200 branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Grand Rapids is the oldest. In town for the centennial celebration is a member of the Central Park Five.

“One agenda, one team, one NAACP. And that’s what it really comes down to”

Cle Jackson is President of the Greater Grand Rapids NAACP.

“When I say, ‘one agenda’ it truly is one agenda because the association and all of the branches, we have literally six priority areas and so it’s health, equity, economic equity, education equity, youth engagement & empowerment, criminal justice & legal redress and voter empowerment & representation. We all focus on those things and I think they’re still much work to be done."

The Greater Grand Rapids Branch is hosting the NAACP Freedom Fund Conference and it’s 53rd Annual Freedom Fund Gala and Awards Friday evening at the Grand Rapids J.W. Marriott featuring Korey Wise.

“Everywhere I go, Korey this, Korey that. The movie was beautiful. Thank you! Thank you! I just want to keep it walking.”

The movie is the Emmy Nominated docuseries, “When They See Us.” It’s the story of the five teenagers wrongly convicted in 1990 of raping a jogger in New York City’s Central Park. Wise is the oldest of the now exonerated Central Park Five.

“To learn that dealing with the system, that the movie “When They See US” being so powerful to the point where it’s knocking out members of the system. You just need to be patient and let it work.”

While it has exposed corrupt officials, it has come at a cost. Wise spent 12 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

“He is just so humble,” explains Jackson, “his spirit is just absolutely amazing. And like he said, he doesn’t have to do this. He’s not doing this for anything but just, I think, amplifying and underscoring the need for change, period. In his own way in this criminal justice system. It is fitting to have him here for folks to be inspired and to be really, I think, touched by his life story.”

Patrick Center, WGVU News,