NAACP coming for state meeting

With plans to address education, jobs and the justice system, the N.C. branch of the NAACP is coming to Cabarrus County next month to hold its annual state convention.

Leaders of the state chapter recently announced that the Oct. 6-9 convention will be at the Great Wolf Lodge and Resort off Bruton Smith Boulevard in Concord.

Amos McClorey, president of the Cabarrus County branch of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the local chapter has been planning for nearly three years in hopes of bringing the state convention to Cabarrus County.

The convention, which began in 1943, has never been held in Cabarrus County.

The Rev. William Barber II, president of the state NAACP, met with local organization leaders at Bethel Baptist Church in Kannapolis to make the announcement.

Barber outlined the goals of the 67th annual convention, pointing to topics such as diversity and education. The convention will have a session on resegregation and student achievement, he added.

In his tenure as president of the N.C. group, Barber has made headlines as a fierce critic of the dismantling of the Wake County schools diversity policy, a forced busing plan initiated to promote diversity. He's also fought for a higher minimum wage and reform of the justice system.

Barber recently received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of the highest honors the N.C. governor can bestow on a resident. Gov. Bev Perdue presented the honor to him in August, citing his efforts toward equality.

The convention will also emphasize the faith community's role in civil rights and host a forum for candidates running for the U.S. Congress and the N.C. General Assembly.

Barber said NAACP leaders will be encouraging people to go to the polls this year.

"We cannot sit out this election," Barber said. "We can't allow angry, small tea parties to think they're the majority."

The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 8 in November's general election. That date falls during the NAACP convention.

NAACP leaders will also address concerns about the justice system.

One justice system discussion leader will be Darryl Hunt, a Winston-Salem man who was freed from prison in 2003 after serving more than 19 years in prison for a wrongful conviction of murder and rape.

Hunt pointed to a report released in August that revealed the State Bureau of Investigation withheld or distorted evidence in more than 200 cases.

Auditors found problems with the evidence presented in three Cabarrus County cases.

"There's a lot they have to do to rebuild the credibility of the system," he said.

North Carolina's NAACP chapter is the second-largest in the country, with about 20,000 members and 120 branches.

McClorey said he hopes having the convention in Cabarrus County will help continue to revive the local NAACP chapter. Three years ago, the Cabarrus chapter had about 100 members. Now membership is up to 200, said McClorey.

Local officials also hope the convention will help businesses in the area.

Donna Carpenter, president and chief executive officer of the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said convention planners expect about 500 NAACP delegates to attend the convention, with about 700 people at the banquet at the end of the convention.

Convention-goers will provide a boost to the local economy, said Carpenter, pointing to recent research that found that visitors coming to Cabarrus County for conventions spend an average of $172.93 daily during their stay.

The convention is open to the public.