MKNAACP invites community to special event to talk voting

Energizing and educating voters on issues related to civil rights is the focus of a Northside community cookout in September as part of a national campaign, “Defeat Hate: Vote.”

The Metropolitan Kalamazoo National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (MKNAACP) is hosting its second annual Embrace the Call to Action Vote Community Cookout 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29 at Ferrell Park, 809 N. Rose Street.

The purpose of the gathering is to increase MKNAAPC membership, sign up current members for working committees, educate voters on upcoming elections, and register voters, all as part of a rare national directive to energize voters regarding civil rights issues.

“Very rarely in the history of the NAACP has there been a directive from national where all the branches are working on the same thing,” says Gwendolyn Hooker, MKNAACP Branch Membership Chairperson and Northside resident. She adds that the current political climate, which jeopardizes civil rights, has unified and strengthened the organization. “We are the oldest and boldest civil rights organization in this country and there is a reason for that. We will not sit idly by and watch civil rights being violated.”

Last year’s inaugural community cookout was well-attended, Hooker says. With 300 registered members in the local chapter, Hooker says she hopes to see membership grow to at least 500 members by 2020.

“The political landscape that we have right now in this country is very precarious, and in that regard, we know that since our leadership has been in office (the White House), he has taken direct attack against the concept of civil rights and democracy,” says Hooker. “When you have leadership with that kind of agenda, the NAACP would be remiss not to respond in a big way.”

The cookout will offer attendees an opportunity to meet and greet MKNAACP Membership Committee members, learn about local civil rights work and election issues, register to vote, and take the pledge to #Arrivewith5 campaign in which voters commit to bringing along five extra voters with them to the polls in November. Featured at the gathering will be a BBQ cookout, live music, guest speaker and a call to action.

All are welcome to the free event, which is family-friendly, bully-free and non-partisan, according to the announcement. Organizations, candidates, volunteers or other individuals wishing to reserve a table may contact Hooker at for a packet. 
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Read more articles by Theresa Coty O'Neil.

Theresa Coty O’Neil is the Managing Editor of Southwest Michigan Second Wave. As a longtime freelance writer, editor, and writing teacher, she has a passion for sharing the positive stories in Southwest Michigan and for mentoring young writers. She also serves as the Project Editor of the Faith in Action series and Project Lead for Battle Creek Voices of Youth.