Branch Holds its 43rd Freedom Fund Banquet
The Montgomery County-Radford City-Floyd County Branch of the NAACP held its 43rd Freedom Fund Banquet on October 13th in Latham Ballroom at the Inn at Virginia Tech.  The theme of the banquet was “Defeat Hate: Vote.”  430 members and supporters attended, and there were 37 sponsors.  The welcome was given by the Master of Ceremonies, Rev. Marlin Reeves.  Greetings were brought by Branch President Rita Irvin, Radford University College Chapter member Ricardo Graves, and VT College Chapter President Camryn Taylor. 
A memorial ceremony for members deceased since the last banquet was led by Rev. Jefferson Jones and Youth Council member Tyler Graves.
Musical entertainment was provided by Current Situation, comprised of Denise Smith and Alan Johnson on vocals, Glen Holmes on keyboards, and Delmar Parker on drums.
 Sponsors of the banquet were recognized by Banquet co-chairs Deborah Travis and Allen Palmer.  The Gold Sponsor, at the level of $2500, was the Virginia Tech Office of the President.  Silver Sponsors, at the level of $1000, were Carilion New River Valley Medical Center; Food Lion, Inc.; the Radford University Office of the President.; Virginia Tech Office for Inclusion and Diversity; and Jefferson College of Health Sciences Office of the President.  Bronze Sponsors, at the $800 level, were Asbury United Methodist Church; Christiansburg Institute and Alumni Association; Huntington, Huntington & Huntington, PLLC; LewisGale Montgomery Hospital; Moog, Inc.; Schaeffer Memorial Baptist Church; United Auto Workers, Local 2069; ColorsVA Magazine; Wolverine Advanced Materials; and Member One Federal Credit Union.  There were 21 Community Sponsors at the $600 level. 
Fully-paid Silver Life Membership plaques were presented to Dr. Arthur Buikema, Judy Diggs, Jason Diggs, Irene Peterson, and Dr. Jill Stewart. 
The Nannie B. Hairston Award, for long-time service to the NAACP and the community, went to Dr. James C. Klagge.  The award was presented by DyAnne Penn, daughter of Mrs. Hairston, and recent award recipients Deborah Travis and Roxie Palmer.  Klagge grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, attended the College of William and Mary and UCLA, and eventually moved to Blacksburg in 1985 to take a position at Virginia Tech as Professor of Philosophy.  Klagge was elected to represent District F for the Montgomery County School Board in 1995, and served as board chair from 1998-2000.  He was re-elected and served until 2003.  His involvement in the establishment of the county-wide Diversity Committee in 1998 was an important accomplishment.  Klagge is a frequent contributor to the Roanoke Times opinion pages, advocating for a variety of civil rights issues.  A past recipient of the Branch’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Community Service Award, Klagge has served as chair of the branch’s Communication Committee for over 15 years, and is a Silver Life member of the NAACP.  He is currently the branch’s 1st Vice President.  Along with other activists from the area, Klagge was part of the counter-protest at the alt-right rally in Charlottesville in August 2017, and the March for Our Lives rally in Washington DC in March.  A member of Asbury UMC, Klagge is married to Rev. Kathy Carpenter, is the father of two and grandfather of two.  He credited the late Rev. John Price for making him feel welcomed into the local African-American community.
The keynote speaker was the Honorable Dietra Y. Trent, Ph.D., former Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia.  During her service to the Commonwealth, Dr. Trent considers her proudest moment to be establishing and obtaining funding for the Minority Political Leadership Institute, aimed at individuals interested in running for elected office or assuming leadership roles in minority communities.  A native of Halifax County, VA, she currently serves as Interim Director of International Education and Special Assistant to the Provost at Radford University.    
Trent spoke on the topic of “Defeat Hate: Vote.”  She began by honoring the work of the NAACP as always necessary.  It has been and continues to be the nation’s moral compass.  The NAACP led the battle to tear down barriers of segregation in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  But the battle against discrimination continues in the “new Jim Crow” prison system, in increasing attempts at voter suppression, and in our embattled schools.  A recent study has shown that children from deprived backgrounds hear 1.3 million fewer words spoken at home than do their more affluent classmates.  They thus begin with a deficit that must be addressed not simply by equality of treatment, but by equity.  What would it take to bring these children up to equal levels of achievement?  Dr. Trent closed by encouraging people to vote.  She noted that the clear winner of the 2016 presidential election was the “none of the above” preference of the 100 million who did not vote at all.  She encouraged people to get out and vote, not only for policies that are good, but for candidates who are good people.  Political Action Committee chair, Karen Jones, presented the guest speaker with a gift of appreciation from the branch.    
The banquet concluded with a benediction by Rev. Pam Phillips after which the attendees held hands and sang “We Shall Overcome” to indicate their commitment to continuing work for civil rights and the betterment of all people in the New River Valley.
The Branch holds its General Body meetings on the 4th Sunday of each month at 3:30pm at the recently-renovated Old Hill School Community Center, 570 High Street in Christiansburg.  All are welcome.  The Branch will hold its 2019 annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Celebration on Sunday, January 20.  Please join us.
  1. The Honorable Dietra Y. Trent, Ph.D.
  2. The Honorable Dietra Y. Trent, Ph.D.
  3. Recognition of Life Members
  4. VT NAACP Chapter President
  5. Recognition of Gold Sponsor
  6. Recognition of Silver Sponsors
  7. 2018 Nannie B. Hairston Community Service Award Recipient
  8. Recognition of Silver Sponsors
  9. Political Action Char
The Honorable Dietra Y. Trent, Ph.D.

Dr. Trent delivers the keynote address (Photo courtesy of David Travis, Jr.)

Klagge receives Nannie B. Hairston Award (l-r: DyAnne Penn, daughter of Mrs. Hairston; James C. Klagge, Ph.D.; Deborah Travis, Branch Secretary) (Photo courtesy of Larry Middleton)

Gold Sponsor (I-r: Timothy Sands, President of Virginia Tech; Allen Palmer, Banquet co-chair) (Photo courtesy of Larry Middleton)

Silver Sponsors (Photo courtesy of Larry Middleton)

Bronze Sponsors (Photo courtesy of Larry Middleton)
Fully-paid Silver Life members (l-r: Deborah Travis, Membership Committee; Irene Peterson, Dr. Jill Stewart, Jason Diggs, Judy Diggs, Rev. Jamie McReynolds, on behalf of Dr. Arthur Buikema; Roxie Palmer, Membership Committee Chair) (Photo courtesy of Larry Middleton)

aren E. Jones, Political Action Committee chair (Photo courtesy of David Travis, Jr.)

Camryn Taylor brings greetings on behalf of the VT College Chapter of the NAACP (Photo courtesy of David Travis, Jr.)

Montgomery County-Radford City-Floyd County Branch Celebrates Juneteenth

The Youth Council and Adult Branch held its Annual Juneteenth Celebration at the

Rosa L. Peters Playground
Christiansburg, VA --- Montgomery County-Radford City-Floyd County Youth Council in partnership with the Adult Branch and Pulaski Branch hosted the annual Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday, June 16, 2018, at the Rosa L. Peters Playground. Juneteenth is the commemoration of June 19, 1865, when the slaves in Texas learned of the Emancipation Proclamation. This year’s celebration was attended by close to 300 people from across the New River Valley.

During the event, the Youth Council presented information about Juneteenth and shared their talents. Entertainment included a musical performance by Miss Jazmyn White who sang while accompanied by Miss Tyler Graves who played acoustic guitar, and a praise dance team “God’s Little Princesses” from First Baptist Church Rock Road, Radford. Ajnah Toliver, founder of The Black Wizzes of Science, made an informative presentation and quizzed the audience on Black history facts. Shawanda Marie from the New Orleans Creole Story Pot shared stories rich in the culture of New Orleans. We also had healthy food cooking demonstrations from the SNAP/Ph/Farmacy Garden and a free yoga session compliments of NRV Wellness.

​Rita Irvin, President said, “This year’s Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom continues to grow as we connect with more and more members of our area. I thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere as we took time to share little-known accomplishments of African Americans, stories of our heritage, and activities of organizations. It was also encouraging to see our young people involved with the music, games, and learning experiences.”

The Juneteenth Celebration included informational booths from civic, social, and advocacy organizations: Virginia Organizing; Safe Kids Information Table with Carilion Health; League of Women Voters of Montgomery County; Christiansburg Institute Alumni Association; Christiansburg Ruritans; NRV Seventh Day Adventist Church; Montgomery-Floyd Regional Library; NRV Master Gardner Association; New River Valley Master Naturalists; Moms Demand Action; Christiansburg-Montgomery County Kiwanis; New River Agency on Aging; and Project Hub. We were also joined by the local history organizations: the Montgomery Museum and the Wake Forest Community Action Club which maintains the Wake Forest Museum. Local political committees including the Montgomery County Democrats; Montgomery County Republicans; Radford City Democrats; New River Valley Greens; Griffith for Congress; and Flaccovento for Congress. The Christiansburg Police Department and Montgomery County Sherriff’s Department shared information on children’s safety and the big hit was the Fire Engine from the Christiansburg Fire Department. Master Sergeant’s BBQ food truck was on hand with a variety of soul food items.

Joining the celebration also were our elected officials from Christiansburg, Blacksburg, Radford, and Montgomery County. Mayor Michael Barber of Christiansburg, Senator John Edwards and Senator Dave Suetterlein all gave greetings. Representative Morgan Griffith and Democratic candidate Anthony Flaccovento were also in attendance and greeted attendees. We would like to thank all who participated and contributed to the success of the event.
The Juneteenth celebration is also a fundraiser for the Youth Council. As a part of their entrepreneurship program, they sold hot dogs, chili dogs, chips and drinks. People enjoyed the fun associated with a cake walk and a raffle of Peter Souza’s Obama: An Intimate Portrait. Additionally, a 50/50 raffle was held and won by Ms. Pauline Palmer, who donated her winnings to the Youth Council.
Juneteenth is a time of community.

Together we celebrated freedom.

Photo Credits: Larry Middleton, Terry Goodson and Lekei Patel
Check out Facebook for more photos!

Black Lives Matter

Shootings of police officers in 2016, sometimes claimed to be in retaliation for police shootings of black citizens, led to a Blue Lives Matter movement. The NAACP has the greatest respect for the job of police officers and all emergency responders. When called on to participate in a BLM protest in Blacksburg on July 11, members made a point of speaking with police officers, and made sure they knew that in honoring Black lives, we also wanted to honor “Blue” lives as well. While it is important that all lives matter, it is the job of the NAACP to educate and act on issues where the rights of inorities in this country are especially in danger. Last October President Obama said, “I think that the reason that the organizers used the phrase Black Lives Matter was not because they were suggesting that no one else's lives matter ... rather what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that is happening in the African American community that's not happening in other communities.” That is exactly the point that the NAACP stands for. Please join us in showing support for Black and Blue lives, without any disrespect for all lives!

Candlelight Vigil

The Local branch of the NAACP has been active in the Black Lives Matter movement since its beginnings in August 2014. In December 2014, the VT branch of the NAACP, in coordination with the VT Black Student Alliance and the local NAACP, staged a week of candlelight vigils on campus. These included marches across campus, and a 4½ minute “die-in” in the Squires Student Center to commemorate the 4½ hours that Michael Brown’s body lay in the street after his death. After the die-in, an open-mic teach-in was held n Squires so that students, especially African-American students, could share their experiences of racism on campus and off. In 2015 racially motivated shootings occurred in Charleston SC, and in Roanoke VA. While these events have brought attention to oppression that has always existed, the attention has increased the desire for open conversations about race, and it has increased the need for good people to make themselves heard.

Health Care Access

On October 26, the branch partnered with three local organizations to sponsor a “Call to Action: Healthcare Access as a Moral Imperative.” The event, held at the UU Congregation Meeting House, promoted the need for affordable access to healthcare, and discussed the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. After a documentary about the challenges of getting care in rural areas, and a personal story from a resident of Bland County, an interfaith panel discussed how health care is viewed from each perspective: Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, and Catholic. The documentary and personal story emphasized how those in need do not want to ask for help or rely on spotty charity.

Healthcare Access Panel (l-r): Rachel Gross (Judaic Studies, VT); Fereshteh Sarafraz (Islamic Azad University, Teheran, Iran); Rev. Kathy Carpenter (NAACP); Sister Maria Timoney (SW VA Legal Aid, Marion, VA); Karen Cameron (VA Consumer Voices for Healthcare); Rev. Charles Swadley (Moderator, VA Interfaith Center for Public Policy)


Each year the Youth Council co-sponsors the Juneteenth Celebration at Rosa Peters Playground. They provide historical presentations, organize games and competitions, and sell food to raise money to support other
activities. At the annual MLK Celebration in January they usher, provide music, poems, and historical background in tribute to Dr. King. During the rest of the year they meet to study African-American history, celebrate diversity through their annual International Dinner, and participate in
leadership training activities. Through the Samuel H. Clark Memorial Scholarships, high school graduates who were Youth Council members, or whose parents or grandparents are NAACP members, can receive a grant for post-secondary education.

Youth Council members (l-r: Allison Foster, Samaya White, Jasmyn White and Zamora White) buy food and gifts for “Blue Santa” Project at Christmas for those in need.
Photo courtesy of Debbie Travis.

Veterans Assistance

NAACP members deliver over $700 in supplies to needy veterans at Salem VA Hospital.

l-r: John Nowlin, Alvin Humes, and Michael Thom

Defending Your Rights

Last fall the national NAACP organized “America’s Journey for Justice” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and to remind Americans of the continuing challenges to ensuring the voting rights of all. Several members of our branch attended the culmination of this event on October 5th in Washington DC. They met with staff of Representative Bob Goodlatte’s office to share their concerns. Goodlatte is responsible for holding hearings on violations of the Act.

The 2015 school year at Christiansburg High School began with several students bringing Confederate battle flags onto school property. This was forbidden by the school code of conduct and led to numerous heated discussions. The local branch sent a letter of concern to the School Board and Superintendent, and then many members attended the October 20th board meeting to show or voice their concerns. We were pleased that the school board stood behind the CHS administration and extended the code to all county schools.