Vermont has its first chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The national organization was formed in 1909 and was instrumental in the civil rights movement.
Mary Brown-Guillory, president of the new chapter, says recent events provided the catalyst for a group of people to organize Champlain Area NAACP.
She isn’t talking about events that took place somewhere else. She says for people of color living in the Champlain Valley area, racial bias shows up in many ways in many places.
“Individuals are discriminated [against] in the Champlain area daily: By the local police department, discriminated against in stores,” says Brown-Guillory.
The organization has been taking shape for months, and now has about 170 members. It will hold a membership meeting next week.
Brown-Guillory believes the assistance and stature of the national organization will provide minorities with a greater voice.
“When you go knock on a stranger’s door sometimes you’re just dismissed and not heard,” she says. “With us, they know that we care and we will use every tool that we can to make sure that every citizen is treated equally.”
Brown-Guillory says her mother was an NAACP chapter president in Louisiana.
Brown-Guillory spoke out last year when the Greater Burlington YMCA asked members of a basketball program to get drinking water from a shower instead of a drinking fountain. She said the request was an example of discrimination.
The Y said the fountain was broken but said asking people to drink water from the shower wasn’t the best idea.
The Champlain Area NAACP includes the Champlain Valley in Vermont and New York as well as neighboring Quebec.
The membership meeting will take place Tuesday, July 14 at 7 p.m. in the Waterman Building on the University of Vermont campus.