Principal among these was W.E.B. DuBois, who was to serve as
the sage of black professionals to form the Niagara Movement, which drew up an
agenda for aggressive action not unlike the group he now joined. Also involved
were Ida Wells-Barnett, a young journalist whose eloquent editorials focused national
attention on the epidemic of lynchings. Participants at the conference agreed
to work toward the abolition of forced segregation, promotion of equal education
and civil rights under the protection of law and the end to race violence.
In 1911, the organization was incorporated into The National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People – The NAACP.
In 1939, the late Professor Frank D. Brown of Pennytown organized
the Mar-Saline Branch of the NAACP. During Professor Brown’s reign, employment
for blacks opened at the International Shoe Factory and a different outlook for
Marshall, MO. World War II and the integration of troops brought hopes for a brighter
future as more benefits were realized. Homes were purchased and banks such as
Wood & Huston opened accounts for Blacks.
Under the presidency of Josephine R. Lawrence, blacks protested
to city government the lack of city services such as sewers, having dangerous
and unsanitary open drainage ditches, and unmaintained streets. Streets are now
maintained and paved. The community on the east side of Marshall took on another
appearance…one of a wholesome and prideful community.
Following this victory, the Mar-Saline Branch and Casey Strong
of KMMO radio station spearheaded protests against Alpha Café. The victory
marked the first time Blacks ate in the front of the restaurant.
Tadar Wazir led the Branch during the late 1970’s and
early 1980’s. Economic gains materialized for Blacks in Marshall. Wazir
encountered many obstacles, which he overcame with his powerful and dynamic presence,
his belief in his Creator, and leadership of the local Branch. City government
gained more respect for the Branch during Wazir’s tenure.
Following Tadar Wazir were Virgie Simmerman, the Anne Smith,
a chartered member and a life-long freedom fighter. Mrs. Smith won battles at
the Marshall Rehabilitation Center, City government, and in the area of education
both at Missouri Valley College and the Marshall Public Schools.
In 1998, current president Clyde L. Williams accepted The Call
as president of the Mar-Saline Branch. Fifty-nine years since the chartering of
the Branch and eighty-nine years since the Association was founded, Williams and
his Executive Committee discovered that although there has been improvements,
“There Is Still Work to Be Done.”
Work to be done in education, economic and political empowerment,
social justice, and civil rights. “The reasons and purpose for which the
Association was founded in 1909, the reason and purpose for Professor Brown chartering
a Branch in Saline County, the reasons and purpose for which Lawrence, Wazir,
Simmerman, Smith and their executive committees still exists today”, says
Williams. […abolition of forced segregation, promotion of equal education
and civil rights under the protection of law and the end to race violence.]
President Williams and the Executive Committee engaged and
won the battle with City government in the improvement of city services and utilities
on the east side…registered more voters in the history of Saline County/Marshall,
MO…influenced the selection and election of Blacks to the City Council…established
tutoring programs…influential in the curriculum and recruitment of faculty
for the Marshall Public Schools...influential in eliminating racism in the Schools…expansion
of its service area.
In the fall of 2004, the Mar-Saline Youth Council was charted.
The 46 members of the Youth Council elected Sherri Wright as their president.
Additionally, Phesa Wright and Laynetta Baylark were elected as Youth Advisors.
The History and Struggle continues…