PICKENS COUNTY — The Pickens County chapter of the NAACP is celebrating its 50th year of working to eliminate race-based discrimination beginning with ensuring educational, political, economic and social equality for all.
“Fifty years is a long time, but still a lot of people don’t know that we’re around,” said Shelia Crawford, chapter president. “We work all the time but I’m not a camera person, I’m a board-room person. When you can get things done with communication and education — there’s no need to be out there marching with a sign.”
In the five decades since the Pickens County chapter was chartered in 1967, Crawford is just the fifth president — and the only woman — to have held the title in the organization’s history.
“People have different ways of doing things but I try to work preemptively, before there are any problems,” she said. “That way you’re proactive, not reactive.”
In the years under Crawford, the Pickens County NAACP has been instrumental in educational relations between the area’s African American community — specifically with the youth — and law enforcement.
“The calls (about law enforcement) have been cut in half,” Crawford said. “It always comes down to education. You have to talk to each other to understand each other. That’s step one.”
In 2015 the organization teamed up with the Pickens County Sheriff Office to host two county-wide meetings with law enforcement and citizens.
Both the PCNAACP and the PCSO called the meetings a “proactive step” in building and securing a relationship between citizens and law enforcement.
Crawford has dreams of expanding programs such as the one with the PCSO.
“I believe in working together ahead of time,” she said. “Law enforcement is a good place to start but we need to be talking with the school districts and behavioral health too.”
This year, the organization is recognizing their milestone anniversary with a banquet dinner to be held at the Best Western Plus University Inn and Conference Center at 1310 Tiger Boulevard in Clemson on Sept. 30 at 7 p.m.
The event is also the organization’s main fundraiser for the year.
“There are 350 tickets available and when they’re gone, they’re gone,” said Crawford. “We’ve reached out to city, county and state representatives to come — I don’t know if they will, but they were invited.”
For tickets or more information contact the Pickens County branch of the NAACP at www.pickensnaacp.com.