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NAACP speaker urges persistence

Oct. 20, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Moving past the volatile political climate and supporting positive changes in the country was the message behind Arley Ray Johnson's speech at Saturday's Freedom Fund Banquet in support of the Huntington-Cabell branch of the NAACP.

Johnson was the keynote speaker at this year's banquet at Marshall University, where more than 100 supporters gathered for the local branch's only fundraiser of the year.

Johnson is a former resident of Huntington and a graduate of Marshall University. He was a past member of Huntington City Council and the West Virginia House of Delegates. His speech highlighted the event's theme, "We Shall Not Be Moved."

"This is an extremely important time with everything that's going on in this country now -- with Republicans trying to shutdown the government, fighting against a Democrat they elected president, trying to disown him, trying to degrade him," Johnson said. "We're not going to be moved. No one's going back now. We're going to fight this fight. We're going to fight it respectfully, we're going to fight it directly and we're going to fight it with dignity and we're not going to back down. The country's going to move forward and we're going to move forward with the country."

Sylvia C. Ridgeway, president of the Huntington-Cabell branch, said the NAACP is working toward improving education, health care, economic development and the criminal justice system for minorities in the U.S.

Currently, they are attempting to have the Stand Your Ground law repealed until it is consistent throughout all states; target at-risk elementary school children who could end up in prison; eliminate juveniles on death row; and support Obamacare as it helps the middle class and poor.

"We're focusing on a lot of different issues," Ridgeway said. "As some of the branches are smaller than others, we have to pick and choose which issues we think we can handle or allude to the problems in our state."

As part of their mission to support education, the branch along with Toyota Motor Manufacturing of West Virginia awarded three college scholarships to local graduates Saturday evening.

Ridgeway said she hoped those who attended would walk away more informed about the NAACP and what they can do to support the mission.

"I hope they became more enlightened and they can now go out and hopefully support us beyond tonight," she said.

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