Written by Tri-State Defender
A strategic plan helps a new group president put a stamp on the course he or she has in mind. This week, the Rev. Keith Norman, the new president of the Memphis Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), rolled out his.
Dubbed the "5 Game Changers for the 21st Century," Norman's plan comes as the Memphis Branch NAACP pushes forward with its annual fundraising campaign, the Freedom Fund Gala, which takes place March 20 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.
Norman, senior pastor of First Baptist Church-Broad, has taken over the NAACP reigns held for 11 years by Dr. Warner Dickerson.
The game changers, he pointed out, are 1) renewing a focus on voter education and maintaining voting rights; 2) making sure that all children have access to a free, high quality public education; 3) leveling the field for affordable health care and access for all; 4) building systems of wealth and strengthening economic sustainability for all; and 5) ensuring public safety and criminal justice.
"The work of the NAACP is as vital today as ever before and our existence is truly needed. However, I strongly believe that the battleground has shifted," said Norman. "Although racial tensions are still far too prevalent within the context of our civilized society, the manifestations of racist actions have become more systemic and rooted within the culture and are not as easily recognized."
Norman says his primary focus is to take the branch to the people and revitalize the image of the branch as an active participant and leader in the struggle for human and civil rights.
"I hope to visit corporations, hospitals, schools, churches and other institutions to speak to large and small groups alike to hear them as well as to share in the mission of the NAACP today," he said.
This effort is called "The NAACP: Where You Are?" Norman said.
"This effort will hopefully provide some clarity in the re-branding efforts of our once great institution and create an opportunity to share with people on how they can join with us and become a part of the fight in the emerging concerns of the day, as well as to help us to shape a current pursuit for our collective future actions."
Norman's community service is widely known, including his involvement in revitalizing the Binghampton community. He spearheaded the completion of a $2 million multi-purpose family life/worship facility that is anchored in the community he serves. He also is overseeing the renovation of a 50,000-square-foot abandoned building that will be known as The H.O.P.E. Zone. H.O.P.E., which stands for Haven of Perfective Empowerment, will be dedicated to Christian education, senior living, and temporary housing for the homeless.
Norman says his ministry and the work he's doing for the NAACP are one in the same – serving a predominantly African-American community. Following great leaders who've served the Memphis branch and left great legacies is an honor that Norman doesn't take lightly.
"Serving as president to the Memphis Branch as well as serving in any capacity beyond the pulpit, whether it is on the board of a hospital or advisor to elected officials, is simply an extension of my service to the calling of God," said Norman.
Norman's election as president of the Memphis branch coincides with his service as the Tennessee State Conference NAACP Religious Affairs Chairman and his election to the Special Contribution Fund Board of Trustees of the NAACP's national office in February of last year. At the local branch, he'd served as the Religious Affairs Chair.
"I believe that God calls men and women to serve the Kingdom agenda, and that the Kingdom agenda is wherever we find ourselves," he said. "I am serving for the time in which the Lord has given me with the realization that one day that time will come to an end."