Wichita Falls NAACP Chapter Relaunch

Paul Mason Jr. believes reviving the local chapter of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization is a sacred calling.

The 30 year old president Wichita Falls NAACP-Unit 6237 said the more steps he took to help breathe new life into the once-active chapter, the more things began to fall into place.

“If you had asked me a year ago, ‘What is your purpose in life outside of your job or outside of your family and friends?’ she is now,” Mason said. “I have to give credit to God for aligning me with my purpose.”

Mason is from Wichita Falls and graduated from Rider High School and Angelo State University in San Angelo. He played college and high school football and earned a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology.

The Wichita Falls NAACP branch revival effort began in earnest about three months ago.

“Month by month our numbers are going up,” said Mason, a real estate and construction professional.

About 36 new members joined, bringing the group to about 60–80.

He said the NAACP is an American interracial organization created to abolish segregation and discrimination in housing, education, employment, voting, transportation, and other areas, as well as to oppose racism and secure the constitutional rights of African Americans.

The Wichita Falls band members try to invite someone new and influential to every meeting, Mason said.

“They can come and share their perspective on what they think the NAACP means to them, the history of Wichita Falls, the future…and just try to find different ways to improve our community, to make hear voices that make it sound like they’ve been ‘left out,'” Mason said.

The group meets in person and online at the same time. Usually, the Wichita Falls branch meets at the Charlye O. Farris Social Justice Resource Center at Midwestern State University.

But for the meeting on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., the group will meet at the Martin Luther King Center at 1100 Smith St. An information meeting on the Community Development Block Grant Programs will follow at 6:30 p.m.

Contact the local NAACP branch at [email protected] or 940-761-2760 or check out the group’s Facebook pagee for more information on meetings or membership.

Mason said his goal is to serve his unit’s executive committee, including Diann Taylor, Alonzo Nelson, Connie Ali, Kerry Woodard, Shana Polk, Penny Rhodes and Cammie Dean.

Alonzo Nelson

Some members of the Wichita Falls branch explained what the NAACP means to them in statements provided by Mason:

  • Woodard, an Army veteran: “The NAACP is a historic equal rights group of which I am proud to be a part. The fight for equality is a fight that still exists. I hope and pray that I can make a difference in this fight. It is my desire to help all those who fight for equality and justice. Personally, I know the fight very well, I have been there and I have done it .
  • Nelson, vice president of the unit: “For me, it’s equity for all, socially, educationally, as well as justice for all.”
  • Ali: The NAACP “creates a safe space, educational needs and advocacy services to assist in the healing of people of color, an organization of compassion, fair treatment and not necessarily for African Americans but essentially for all, a voice for the people”.
  • Polk, unit communications secretary: “The NAACP is synonymous with both opportunity and legacy. This is an opportunity to make positive changes for equality. Legacy is the model of historical relevance for the NAACP’s position after all these years.
  • Mason: “What NAACP means to me is hope. It’s a voice, a refuge for the voiceless, and a strength to lean on when fatigue sets in. . . . It’s is a spirit that sets in when you see two teams come and go. It’s just a knockout fight, and that spirit that sets in gives the winning team the extra punch to get over that bump. …I like to call it the it factor.

Rhodes said there had been attempts before to revive the local unit, but they hadn’t worked for various reasons, including the pandemic.

“We saw that the time was right and, and one of the reasons we wanted to restart the chapter now is because there seems to be no answers or responses to the things that are happening in our society. civilian,” Rhodes, the local’s recording secretary, said.

Members of Wichita Falls NAACP-Unit 6237 gather for a photo with musician Armond Vance after his July 28, 2022 performance at The Forum.  Pictured, left to right, Cammie Dean, Diann Taylor, Vance, Paul Mason and his son Joshua Mason and Penny Rhodes.

For example, young people gathered and marched in Wichita Falls following the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“But once they have marched, where will they continue their activities or their activism? Rhodes said.

“A group like the NAACP has proven itself. Now a lot of people think you have to redo the wheel to have a good wheel, but a wheel is a wheel. Its basic structure is not going to change. And the NAACP has been around since 1909,” she said.

Rhodes said the local chapter invites people of all colors, genders, races and economic levels to join the group, including young people.

“We need young thinkers. We need people. . . bring new ideas about how to spin the wheel and which direction the wheel should go,” she said.

It only comes from community involvement, Rhodes said.

“We encourage people to get involved in the community again,” she said. “We want you to do something that will make a difference.”

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