The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People board of directors voted unanimously to approve the charter for a Santa Clarita Valley chapter of the NAACP during Black History Month, coinciding with the 112th anniversary of the NAACP’s founding in February 1909.
The petition was submitted by NAACPSCVs’ Organizing Committee Lead Thea-Marie Perkins, after having received support and an endorsement from Ron Hasson, regional director of the Beverly Hills/Hollywood Branch, as well as California State Area Conference President Ron Callendar, according to an NAACPSCV press release. Having led the efforts in assembling the SCV branch of the NAACP, Perkins hopes for the chapter to be able to create an environment that has “more inclusion, more equity, and more instances of black excellency that uplift our culture.”
Perkins was also responsible for assembling an organizing committee of volunteers who participated in two membership drives where people were able to deliver their applications for membership in a dropbox, with both drives exceeding the membership numbers required to start a branch.
“Once the branch receives its letter of authorization and branch number, we’ll be able to implement digital sign ups as well,” Perkins said.
While the chapter has yet to go through the process to elect its board members, the national office of the NAACP plans to hold an election for the chapter. The executive officer positions include the president, three vice presidents, three secretaries, a treasurer, as well as a variety of different chairs and committees that cover employment, social justice to the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics Program Committee, according to the press release. Perkins also added, “any [dues-paying] member in our organization for 30 days are able to run for an office or position.”
Barbara White, a member of the organizing committee, said that the chapter formed in response to growing concerns from SCV residents over racial tensions. She referred to the August arrest of three teenagers, two of whom were Black, at gunpoint by a Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s deputy with an AR-15. This happened at the corner of Whites Canyon and Soledad Canyon Road outside of a Buffalo Wild Wings in Canyon Country.
“Being a Black person, we always need whatever help we can get,” she said. “In Santa Clarita, we’re about [4%] of the population and a lot of stuff goes on here, everywhere, and I felt like after what happened with the young men at Buffalo Wild Wings last year, people started talking and we all collectively agreed we needed an organization like this.”
Another major incident occurred Feb. 13, 2020, when Perkins’ then seven-year-old son, Soloman, was accused by another student of having a gun in his backpack, which in actuality were just Valentine’s Day cards for classmates at Tesoro del Valle Elementary School. Six Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s deputies questioned and detained Solomon. White considered this a gross overreaction.
“This was extreme, but this happens with Black children all the time,” she said. “I had an issue with my granddaughter at the school where she wasn’t even involved but they were saying if she doesn’t tell them what happened that they were going to call the sheriff.”
Following these incidents, among many others, “these hard-working and dedicated community members…took it upon themselves to take action,” according to the press release.
“We want to celebrate them and all our community members who are working to create equity and inclusion for African Americans in the financial, educational and political areas of the Santa Clarita Valley,” read the release.
Alyssa Williams, another member of the organizing committee, said she believes the branch is necessary in helping deal with future problems of intolerance.
“Underlying all these great things in ‘Awesometown’ are ridiculous amounts of racism and intolerances,” Williams said. “There are people in this town emboldened to go up to anybody of color to tell them what they think, hassling them and creating issues”.
“I would really like to see some work with the city,” she continued. “Their views and their handling of issues of racism and inequality could use much help. I know they have things like the [Human Relations Roundtable] but that’s a lot of talking…. I hope with the NAACP here, we’ll be able to push them to some sort of action through partnership.”
Perkins hopes that as the chapter continues to grow, it will strive to create an open communication with city officials and local law enforcement, as well as all local school districts in helping build relationships with regards to more inclusion and equity for people of color.
Stay up to date on news from the Santa Clarita Valley NAACP by following their social media, including Facebook and finding their handle @naacpscv on Twitter and @thenaacpscv on Instagram. Anyone with questions about the SCV branch can email Thea-Marie Perkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.