Updated: Feb 2, 2021
By Jamie Wiggan
Local leaders are looking to bring together McKees Rocks and surrounding communities to push for racial justice by forming a new branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Participants in a Jan. 9 exploratory conference call discussed how a local chapter could build up political representation, create better opportunities for school students and elevate quality of life throughout the community.
Heading the call, Moon resident Carter Spruill said he is looking to replicate the success of the Coraopolis NAACP chapter he launched in the summer of 2019. While headquartered in McKees Rocks, Spruill said the chapter would serve surrounding municipalities like Stowe and Bellevue, as well as bordering neighborhoods within the City of Pittsburgh, like Sheraden and Esplen.
About 20 others — including residents, non-profit leaders and two representatives from the Sto-Rox School District — also participated in the call.
“You are not alone when you are a member of the NAACP, you have power coming behind you,” said Terri Minor Spencer, a Sheraden resident and director of local advocacy non-profit, West End Power.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP remains a powerful voice in national discourse, pushing a broad range of issues including health, criminal justice and economic opportunity. The organization encompasses more than 2,200 chapters, which together represent around 2 million members.
For a small local chapter, Spruill said political organizing and keeping watch over public servants would be high priorities.
“That’s a really important part – dealing with your council and your school board — because it really affects your everyday life,” he said. “…You can have a whole new council that could make a difference, but that’s up to the residents of McKees Rocks.”
Sto-Rox School Board President Samantha Levitzki-Wright said she was excited about the potential to partner with a new NAACP chapter.
“We really, really try to encourage that the students engage with each other so they can have a voice,” she said. “…We always jump on an opportunity for how we can enrich our students’ lives.”
Before establishing a new branch, Spruill said the group would have to recruit 100 members and submit an application to the national organization. Having recently been through the process, Spruill said he’s willing to spearhead the move, but intends to step back once the group gets ratified.
“I’m not going to run your branch,” he said. “…But I’ll be there holding your hand until you’re up and running.”
The participants discussed meeting again in the final days of January, but did not set a final date.
For information about the proposed chapter or upcoming discussions, contact Carter Spruill at email@example.com. Information about the NAACP can be found at: www.naacp.org.