To promote equality of rights and to eradicate caste or race prejudice among the citizens of the United States; to advance the interest of colored citizens; to secure for them impartial suffrage; and to increase their opportunities for securing justice in the courts, education for the children, employment according to their ability and complete equality before law.
— NAACP Mission, 1911
I deplore identity politics. It divides us as a nation and only serves to belittle the individual essence that makes us all Americans. We are a nation bigger than race, sex, religion or any other artificial identity silo that some in both parties, and numerous self-interest groups, choose to place us in. These silos do nothing more than to serve as the mechanism of our subjugation, driving many to think there is a need to defend “our differences” in order to strengthen our country. The absurdity of that belief has had just the opposite effect on our country. The false divisions that some are promoting for political gain have weakened us as a nation, and is very different from the dream shared with us by Dr. Martin Luther King.
Any person or group that claims to speak for an entire population, while at the same time ignoring those people they claim to represent, not only is showing their lack of knowledge, but is walking away from King’s most import message, that we would all be judged by the content of our character. Sadly, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is just such a group.
Recently, local NAACP Chapter President Purnell Ross endorsed first-term N.H. state Sen. David Watters, D-District 4, over challenger Eddie Edwards. Watters is white; Edwards is black. This is not an attack on Watters, and the issue of race is not the point of this story. The issue is the local NAACP has decided not to allow Mr. Edwards the opportunity to speak and meet with members of the group.
One has to wonder about the thought process of this decision. Edwards probably could reach out to the members of the NAACP through other methods. Nevertheless, if local NAACP officials truly believe in the founding mission of their organization, do they not have an obligation to open their doors and minds to Mr. Edwards? Are they not only turning their back on the very success they claim they are trying to achieve, but also denying their members the opportunity to meet a man of incredible character?
I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Edwards, and hearing him speak. His life story is truly amazing and inspiring. It is an American success story — one that needs to be heard. Edwards was raised by his grandparents and had to overcome hardships that many of us cannot imagine, let alone endure. He persevered with self-determination and hard work. He served this country with honor in the U.S. Navy before transitioning into a law enforcement career in the New Hampshire. Edwards served as director of the New Hampshire Liquor Enforcement Division and recently retired as the police chief of South Hampton.
His accomplishments are numerous, having served on the N.H. Legislative Study Commission on Street Gangs, the N.H. State Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice, the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice, as chairman of N.H. Disproportionate Minority Contact Committee and on the Board of Directors for the N.H. Endowment for Health.
It would be sad for NAACP members to miss an opportunity to hear from Mr. Edwards face to face. The courtesy should not be afforded Edwards solely because he is black, but because he is the very epitome of Dr. King’s dream. Edwards should be judged on the content of his character.
By not allowing Edwards to speak, the NAACP is abandoning its original charter. This once-esteemed civil rights group, whose founding was noble and just, has become nothing more than an extension of the Democratic Party, ignoring that we are a nation of differing opinions and beliefs, regardless of our race, gender or faith.
In fact, the group should really consider changing its name to the National Association for the Advancement of Democratic Colored People, because it has no interest in promoting those who do not share its belief system.
Should you want to find out more about Eddie Edwards and judge for yourself, go to http://eddiefornh.com/about-eddie-edwards.