NAACP demonstration planned for Saturday

Will support Martin family, protest 'Stand Your Ground' laws

By Jeff D'Alessio

A demonstration is planned for Saturday around the Hardin County Justice Center as the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People shows support for the family of slain teenager Trayvon Martin and protests “Stand Your Ground” laws.

Donna Smalls, acting president of the local NAACP chapter, said the organization’s goal is “to correct a tragedy and come together.” She said Martin’s death is a civil rights issue.

“He was unarmed and walking down the street and not bothering anyone,” Smalls said.

She said the demonstration of support is for the NAACP’s effort to bring civil rights charges against neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who was acquitted Saturday of murder, “Not because (Martin) was an African-American child, but (because the) Stand Your Ground law puts innocent people in harm’s way.”

In an email to the local chapter’s executive committee Tuesday night, Smalls said, “I am asking you as the local NAACP to show your visual support for the national mandate to bring justice to this family. We are all affected and we must stand up and speak out against injustice.”

Smalls hopes local politicians, church leaders, parents, youth and friends also will join in the effort, which begins at noon Saturday and is scheduled to last 30 minutes.

Smalls, who is attending the national NAACP convention this week in Orlando, Fla., said the not-guilty verdict surprised her.

“Only because I think the judge was looking for an out by considering manslaughter,” she said.

She said demonstrations like Saturday’s event in Elizabethtown could show Attorney General Eric Holder how serious the NAACP is in pushing for civil rights charges against Zimmerman.

Holder spoke Tuesday at the national convention and condemned “Stand Your Ground” laws.

Smalls said the local demonstration will go on regardless of the number of attendees to support the effort.

Jeff D’Alessio can be reached at (270) 505-1757 or jdalessio@thenewsenterprise.com.

NAACP considers Supreme Court decision

Local branch under temporary new leadership

By Amber Coulter

Local NAACP leaders join national figures in voicing their opinions on part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 being struck down Tuesday by the U.S. Supreme Court.

National NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous called the ruling an outrage and said the Justice Department has lost its most effective tool to prevent voter disenfranchisement. The high court’s 5-4 decision strikes down a formula used to determine, based on a history of discrimination, if states and localities need federal approval before changing voting laws.

The ruling gives Congress authority to enact a new formula and Jealous said the NAACP and its supporters will urge lawmakers to do so.

The decision stirred conversation in the organization locally, said Donna Smalls, acting president of the Hardin County NAACP chapter.

She described the decision as destructive to the voting rights of minorities and other populations who historically have been discriminated against.

“That’s very serious to us who are fighting for voting rights for everyone,” she said.

Smalls has been acting president of the local branch of the NAACP since April in anticipation of President Marcus Ray’s deployment to Afghanistan.

Ray, a battalion commander with the U.S. Army National Guard, left for Afghanistan last week, Smalls said. Ray is expected to return from deployment between March and June of next year and resume his duties with the NAACP.

The situation is a first for Smalls, who previously served as vice president. She’s never heard of a member of the local NAACP’s leadership team deploying during a term with the organization.

Ray has been in weekly contact with the organization using the Internet and things are going well, Smalls said.

“He prepared me,” she said.

One of Smalls’ responsibilities as acting president is to assist the chairwoman in charge of organizing this year’s annual Freedom Fund Banquet scheduled for Sept. 14 at Fort Knox.

The banquet is a fundraiser for the organization and an opportunity to distribute awards to community members.

Money raised supports training for members, who all are volunteers. It also pays for social and educational events backed by the NAACP, such as classes on finances, a youth council, health fairs and lessons about how to respond when in contact with law enforcement.

This year’s event likely will include an address of the Voting Rights Act, Smalls said.

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.

Purple Heart veteran promotes area support for troops

By Amber Coulter

Friday, March 9, 2012 at 6:04 am (Updated: March 9, 6:58 am)

Irvin Lyons Jr. remembers rocks being thrown at his car by civilians when he was stationed with the U.S. Army at Fort Hood, Texas.

Jill Pickett

Irvin Lyons Jr., state commander for the Military Order of the Purple Heart, speaks about his time in the service and his mission to get cities in Kentucky to declare themselves Purple Heart cities, during a recent interview.1 of 3

Lyons, now a Vine Grove resident, was disheartened when he came home from serving in Vietnam with two Purple Heart medals for being injured and twice during that year was faced with crowds of people furious with him and other military members.

They were called baby killers and told to go back where they came from, he said.

“It was bad. It was bad,” he said. “You wanted to get back on the airplane and go back to Vietnam. You got treated better there than you did here.”

The veteran still has shrapnel in his left arm, which he couldn’t use for three months after a rocket shattered against a nearby tank.

He narrowly avoided death when a vehicle he was riding in hit a land mine. He was knocked unconscious after being ejected. Grenades kept in the vehicle were discovered to have the pins half dislodged and were on the brink of being set off, which would have killed him.

Still, he returned to the U.S. feeling no one but his immediate family wanted him back.

Lyons thinks a climate of support for the troops is overdue, and he wants to encourage it by asking cities throughout the state to  declare themselves Purple Heart cities.

Lyons, state commander for the Military Order of the Purple Heart, began a mission Monday with a visit to Vine Grove City Council’s monthly meeting.

He explained issuing a proclamation requires no money or effort on the part of the city. It signifies support for veterans injured during service.

Members of his organization plan to pay for signs to be placed near participating cities’ welcome signs identifying them as Purple Heart cities.

City council members in Vine Grove unanimously approved issuing such a proclamation.

Mayor Blake Proffitt said it’s important to do anything to honor and show respect for those who serve in the military and secure the privileges and freedom Americans enjoy.

The proclamation was a small thing Vine Grove can do to honor those  wounded in carrying out that duty, he said.

“It should be important to every American,” he said.

Lyons’ next targets are Elizabethtown City Council, Radcliff City Council and Hardin County Fiscal Court. He plans to visit governing bodies in Louisville, Lexington and Frankfort. He has asked local commanders in his organization to set up meetings with their governments.

Lyons thinks the effort is a good way to generate patriotism throughout the state, and he hopes seeing locations support veterans will inspire similar reactions in residents.

“It’s all about honoring our veterans,” he said. “I don’t think we can do too much.”

Lyons got the idea when he read about seven cities and a county in California that declared themselves Purple Heart locations.

“I thought, ‘Why not Kentucky?’” he said.

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.

NAACP youth attend national convention

By The Staff

Eight members of the Hardin County NAACP Youth are representing Hardin County at the National Convention in Kansas City, Mo., from July 10-15. They will spend time with First Lady Michelle Obama discussing steps to combat obesity in children, Tatiana Ali and more. The Youth Branch would like extend a special thanks to Heritage Int’l Christian Church, Charles Hinckley – Network Realty, Fort Knox Federal Credit Union, Bank of America Home Loans, Jo Emary – Radcliff Chamber of Commerce, Mattingly and Ford, Marc Roberts – Kentucky Farm Bureau and many others for helping to make this dream come true.

NAACP participates in Hooray for Heroes

By The Staff

The Hardin County Branch, NAACP participated in the 2009 Hooray for Heroes Celebration honoring soldiers and their families for their service. From left, Irvin Lyons Jr, President Allan Francis, Evette Morgan, Andrena Phillips and Joe Williams.


By The Staff
<div class="source">submitted</div><div class="image-desc"></div><div class="buy-pic"><a href="http://web2.lcni5.com/cgi-bin/c2newbuyphoto.cgi?pub=053&amp;orig=NAACPHooray2.jpg" target="_new">Buy this photo</a></div>

  Hardin County Branch NAACP participated in Hooray for Heroes by setting up a membership and voter’s registration table, along with a table of toys for children. Pictured from left, members Mildred Williams, Aundra Jackson and Joe Williams. Joe Williams greets people with information about the Hardin County Branch NAACP. The general membership meeting is at 6:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month in the conference room at Radcliff Hardin County Chamber of Commerce.


By The Staff

From left, front row; Donna Smalls, Kimberly Francis, Ronnie Pence, Allan Francis, Andrena Phillips and Gail Lyons; back row; Lorenzo Shannon, Simon Swain, Joe Williams, Henry Berroa, and Irvin Lyons.


Ronnie Pence, President and CEO of Kentucky Neighborhood Bank, presented Allan Francis, President of the Hardin County Branch, NAACP with a $1,000 donation for their gold sponsorship to the 18th Annual Martin Luther King Jr., Unity Celebration and Lottie O. Robinson Scholarship Fundraiser. This donation helped defray expenses incurred so that funds generated from ticket sales could go toward scholarships to local youth.

Website Builder