The Brookhaven chapter of the NAACP has been resurrected by community leaders and a town councilwoman about three years after the group went on hiatus because of inactivity.
The chapter has a new president, Georgette Grier-Key of Bellport, and a host of new members after a recruiting drive. Membership now numbers "much more than" 100, Grier-Key said Wednesday.
The organization — NAACP Chapter 2133 — will hold a kickoff barbecue and fundraiser next weekend, and it plans to launch voter registration drives and support the NAACP's Game Changers initiative, which focuses on issues such as education, crime prevention and minority hiring.
The group, one of 10 NAACP chapters on Long Island and 52 statewide, stopped meeting because it had not been involved in community issues, NAACP officials said.
“It wasn’t active, so a whole bunch of us got together and we decided with the current climate, it’s very vital to have the oldest and boldest organization active at this time,” said Grier-Key, a Nassau Community College professor and executive director of the Eastville Community Historical Society in Sag Harbor. “We needed to make sure we have Brookhaven Town operating.”
Grier-Key said the group's leaders had to follow “a very specific process” to reactivate the group, such as ensuring it had at least 50 members, as required by NAACP rules.
State NAACP president Hazel Dukes said the Brookhaven chapter had enough members but had become dormant from “mostly lack of participation and activity,” adding, "It kind of was not as active as it should have been, so people kind of drifted away.”
Dukes said the previous president, the Rev. Beresford Adams, stepped down and new leaders volunteered. Adams could not reached for comment.
Dukes credited Grier-Key and NAACP Long Island regional director Tracey Edwards with rejuvenating the group.
“Georgette seemed to have a lot of fire and is a go-getter," Dukes said. "We need to have our communities engaged and speaking up on issues.”
Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, the only African-American on the town board, said the new chapter is needed because racism "is occurring more blatantly," citing hate crimes, racist comments on social media and incidents of Ku Klux Klan leafletting in some parts of Long Island.
“We’re back and we’re looking to make a difference on Long Island,” Cartright said. “I think we have a lot of work to do on Long Island. I think it’s crucial in this current political climate when we’re dealing with issues that we hoped were in the past.”
The chapter plans to meet on the first Tuesday of each month at its headquarters in the Mott House, 68 Middle Country Rd. in Coram. The kickoff celebration will be held there from noon-4 p.m. on Sept. 15, Grier-Key said. A $10 donation is requested.
“We’re expecting the community to come out there in force,” Grier-Key said. “We plan on showing the community that the NAACP is still here and making sure they have the information they need to be viable.”