Local NAACP chapter's 97th annual Freedom Fund Banquet is Friday at the Mahoning Country Club


The new administration of the local chapter of the NAACP has made it clear it wants to do all it can to improve the academic standing of the Youngstown City School District.

President George Freeman Jr. was quite vocal in his criticism of the city school board as well as former Superintendent Connie Hathorn.

The organization’s 97th annual Freedom Fund Banquet at 7 p.m. Friday at the Mahoning Country Club, 710 E. Liberty St., Girard, will focus on the theme “Supporting and Empowering Families Advocating for Educational Excellence.”

Toward that end, the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has scheduled Atty. Victor Goode to be its keynote speaker.

Goode is the NAACP’s interim national education director. He and others will be speaking on how “supported and empowered families and parents have helped their children achieve in schools and communities – both locally and nationally,” says a news release from Freeman.

Jimma McWilson, chapter secretary and a staunch advocate of changing the paradigm for how the schools can improve academically, sent me an email explaining why the local chapter wanted to bring Goode here to speak.

“This is the beginning of what is the overarching theme for this [local NAACP] administration, not just this event. Education is the civil rights road to economic empowerment and crime reduction,” he wrote.

“If you get a quality education, have the skills, get a good job and you are working hard and providing for yourself and your family, chances are you will not be on the street committing a crime,” McWilson said.

“But, first things first. You need a quality education and that is where we are starting.”

McWilson has been the head of a community group called the Community High Commission, which has monitored the school board’s efforts to improve district’s academic standing.

The school board, the teachers union and others challenged the controversial Youngstown Plan, in which an appointed CEO essentially would run the district. A two-day hearing took place this week, and a judge is to make a ruling on an injunction to stop the plan’s implementation in the coming days.

But the NAACP wants to be a positive catalyst for change as well, and has brought in Goode to put forth some practical ideas how the Youngstown community can begin the process of improving the district’s overall poor academic performance, especially among black children who make up the majority of the district’s 5,400 students.

Goode has served as an assistant general counsel in the national NAACP office since 2004. In April 2014, he was moved to the NAACP Education Department as interim national education director.

According to his resume, Goode managed the NAACP National Redistricting Project and worked on voter ID, statewide redistricting and early-voting cutback cases, including the Ohio early-voting case.

He graduated from the Thurgood Marshall Law School. He also has a master of public administration degree from East Texas State University and a bachelor’s degree from West Texas State University.

Goode and his wife, Jennifer, a sociologist, were commissioned by the Harvard Civil Rights Project to present their research on the Toledo Safe Schools Ordinance at a national conference on zero tolerance and the “school-to-prison pipeline” and have presented at other national conferences.

Tickets are $40 per person or $320 for a table of eight. For ticket information or questions, call 330-782-9777, or go to the chapter’s website at www.naacp-youngstown.org.

Also in October, ACTION (Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing Our Neighborhoods) will feature the Rev. B. DeNeice Welch of Bidwell Street United Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, for a convocation titled “Turned Down for What” at St. Edwards Church, 240 Tod Lane, Youngstown. Monsignor Robert Siffrin is St. Edward’s pastor.

ACTION is a faith-based community organizing group that focuses on a range of social issues, including crime prevention and education.

The event will take place from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Oct. 18. There will be at least seven breakout sessions, including ones on public education and racism.

For information, contact ACTION at 330-941-0475.

The Rev. Dr. M. Rosie Taylor is organization president, and Elder Rosetta Carer is its director.

Ernie Brown Jr., a regional editor at The Vindicator, writes a monthly minority-affairs column. Contact him at ebrown@vindy.com.

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