Leading the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Pasadena Branch through its centenary year offers both challenges and opportunities to new president Allen Edson.
“I think 100 years is a great milestone for any organization,” Edson told Pasadena Now, “but particularly for us in Pasadena. It speaks volumes about the role of the NAACP here and how we’ve affected life in this town.”
That said, Edson believes the group needs an injection of some new energy.
“Everything we are doing this year is around that 100 years celebration and so we have set a goal to get 100 new members,” said Edson.
The drive to enlist new members is part of a larger effort by Edson and the Branch’s executive committee to raise the level of activism and engagement on the part of black Pasadenans.
It is, in fact, Edson’s primary goal.
“We just don’t have people letting their voices be heard,” he elaborated. “That can come in many different forms, from school to business, to what’s happening on city council to police issues. You can pick one. There’s just not enough African-American voices being heard.”
The outreach began with an installation ceremony for himself and the new executive committee. Edson said there had not been a public expression of the chapter’s inner workings in seven years.
“We had a consultant tell us nobody in town knew who the NAACP is anymore,” he explained, “So I wanted to have an event where I could introduce myself to the community and the membership. It was a kick-off and a way to say, ‘We are doing something different.’”
Those are internal affairs to excite and engage the membership.
On the external side, the political front, the biggest issue for the local chapter is housing, according to Edson.
“Housing affordability is one of the biggest issues in our community right now,” said Edson. “The African-American population is dwindling in Pasadena because they just can’t afford to live here.”
NAACP Pasadena has been working with Heritage Housing Partners on an affordable housing-for-ownership development planned for the community.
The work with Heritage Housing Partner is evidence of the group’s efforts at linking up with like outfits on common projects locally.
Another such collaboration is with Pasadenans Organizing for Progress with whom NAACP Pasadena has worked on the minimum wage issue and police matters.
The Pasadena Chapter has a number of events planned this year around the centenary theme, all of which will be highlighted at its popular Ruby McKnight Williams Awards evening.
For information about how you can join or about the Branch’s activities, contact the NAACP Pasadena Branch at 595 Lincoln Avenue, Suite #103. (626) 793-1293.