Watauga County NAACP branch applies for national chapter acceptance


Gerrit Van Genderen

Approximately 130 people have officially registered to become part of the first National Association for the Advancement of Colored People branch in Watauga County, said Marg McKinney, the chapter’s temporary president.

Reverand Guy_web
The Rev. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP, speaks at a press conference held at the Boone Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on Oct. 28. Barber is the organizer of the Moral Monday Movement and was influential in motivating members of the community to gain support for forming an NAACP branch in Watauga County. Photo by Nicole Debartolo | The Appalachian

McKinney said the branch applied for charter in early December. The application was sent to the NAACP national office, which will make a vote to declare the branch official within the next couple of weeks.

The requirements for applying to become an official branch include having at least 100 dues-paying members and to list why the hopeful branch thought it was a good idea to be located where it is.

“We had to make a list of the problems we identified in our county that we think an NAACP branch could address,” McKinney said.

Those problems for Watauga County included instances of discrimination, the poverty and disparity in wages, some bullying in schools, a lack of diversity and voter suppression, she said.

McKinney said that the hopeful branch is also very concerned about the polarization of the community and the town.

“In town, there is a lingering resentment that the students are deciding who governs us,” McKinney said. “That is not true. We have to educate folks to realize that even though students may be here for four years, a lot of them are putting their heart and soul into the community.”

She said that she wants students to realize that it is not them against the town, either.

McKinney said that she does not believe any Appalachian State University students were members of the branch yet, but hopes that will change.

“We have not really gone and talked to the student associations, but we do have a new member who is very interested in doing that,” McKinney said. “We are going to encourage the students to join our large group because once they do that and reach 25 members, they can have their own student chapter.”

Black Student Association President Candace Mollison said that while the BSA had not helped with the formation of the NAACP branch in Watauga County, she expected the association and its individual members to become more involved.

“I and a few others were very excited when we heard of the formation,” Mollison said. “It means a lot to see the county of Watauga growing, changing, being more diverse and accommodating those needs.”

Students, regardless of their permanent residence, can join the Watauga County NAACP branch at any point, McKinney said.

A major reason the branch is flourishing is due to people from various areas with different kinds of experiences are joining, McKinney said.

“We are learning so many things,” McKinney said. “This group, as it continues to grow, has added, gained more and more awareness about the issues around us.”

Pending the vote to declare the branch official, McKinney said that the officers for the branch would be selected in the upcoming weeks. Elected officers will serve for two years at a time.

McKinney said that she would not be running for the official position of president once the elections occur due to other obligations, but felt that it will be in good hands.

“We have a number of people who have expressed interest in doing leadership and I think they will do a really good job,” McKinney said.

McKinney is also the coordinator of the Forward Together Movement in Watauga County, which helped bring the Rev. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina state conference of the NAACP and organizer of the Moral Monday movement, to Appalachian to speak about the need for moral movement in North Carolina.

Barber was also influential in motivating members of the community to gain support for forming an NAACP branch in Watauga County, McKinney said.

The branch is also organizing transportation for the Feb. 8, Moral March on Raleigh, which is an event being spearheaded by the NAACP to mainly express concerns about social justice, McKinney said. She expects more than 100 people from the Watauga County area will be traveling with the branch.

Story: Gerrit Van Genderen, News Reporter

Photo: Nicole Debartolo, Staff photographer