Lifelong Lakewood resident, civil rights activist and incoming NAACP president Jim Waters spoke at the Lakewood branch Monday evening to discuss the founding of the national NAACP, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and his experiences as he grew up in racially charged times in the US.
Waters said he didn’t understand racism while he lived in Lakewood, but when he went down South he had to sit in the “colored” section of a restaurant or drink from the “colored” fountain. He described the fear his Southern relatives felt as they admonished him, “Boy, you got too much mouth. You’re going to get us in trouble,” he said they told him.
Waters also reflected upon current times, telling the group that in many ways African Americans are better off now than in 1909 when the NAACP was organized. He also said that he did not expect to see an African American president but said that many of the hopes people now feel are riding upon President Obama’s abilities.
Waters said there are still areas that need attention, including: health care (“Medical care should be an entitlement and should not depend upon your resources”); education; and housing.
Waters credited his mother for teaching him to not hate and be resentful. he also expressed his thankfulness for the opportunities he was offerd in life. “Someone gave me an opportunity and I took advantage of that opportunity.”
His program gave people opportunities to share from their experience. One told how as a youngster she saw the “white” fountain and the “colored” fountain and niavely wanted to see what white water and colored water looked like.
Waters told the group that he plans on attending every NAACP program within a six-hour drive, this year, including its annual convention in the Jacob Javitts Center in NYC.
Virginia Papandrea, Jim Waters and Zarita Mattox