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NAACP Continues Working for Equality
For the past 105 years, the National Association For The Advancement Of Colored people has fought numerous civil rights cases.
Legendary African-Americans, including Rosa Parks and W. E. B. Du Bois, all took part in fighting for equality during the time of segregation.
"It was about equality, justice, to make sure that everyone was treated fairly, no one was being discriminated against regardless of race, religion, or creed," Springfield Branch President Teresa Haley said.
The organization got its start from the 1908 Springfield Race Riots. A white woman claimed two black men sexually assaulted her.
Springfield police arrested the men, but whites in town wanted to take the law in their own hands before the men could get a fair trial.
"Certain individuals asked could they remove the men from the jail so they could hang them and shoot them," Haley said. "The sheriff at that time said they couldn't allow that happen and contacted someone in Bloomington, Ill."
Once people found out that the men were removed, the town went into an uproar. Black homes and business were destroyed and set on fire, leaving some homeless and five men dead.
This sparked activists to start an organization that would help those facing an injustice.
"I saw the NAACP as a wonderful way of expressing my concern about the issues, the social issues of the day," Illinois NAACP Branches President George P. Mitchell said.
Mitchell joined the NAACP after graduating high school in the late '60s. He believes that America has come a long way from the Springfield Race Riots, but still has a lot more improving to do.
"The economic disparities we have in our country, the educational disparities in our country," Mitchell said. "This is a great country, but we have to do something about them."
The local Springfield branch continues to keep education a priority for this generation . Local high school students were honored by the organization in excelling in the classroom during Saturday's award ceremony.
"It keeps African American students such as myself out of trouble and I'm very happy they have a program such as this to honor us," Springfield High School senior Zhavier Harris said. "It gives us motivation for college."
The NAACP honored some of the high school students with scholarships and awards for the outstanding academic achievement.
The Springfield branch of the NAACP is currently working with District 186 schools to resolve equality issues. The group feels the district needs more minorities at work in Springfield schools.