NAACP Cobb County Branch President Deane Bonner, dressed in African attire “to represent the mother land,” said the 12th annual “Profiles in Black” event was about highlighting historical events, with local people speaking about their personal moments while living in Cobb.
One such person was Ernest Bell, who said he was raised in Marietta’s “Baptist Town” and now sings in the choir at Turner Chapel, on the corner of North Marietta Parkway and Fairground Street.
On Tuesday night, Bell was surrounded by family members representing multiple generations as he spoke about their ancestors fighting for the right to vote in Cobb.
Part of the night’s festivities included the Cobb NAACP donating historical records to the Kennesaw State University archives.
Tamara Livingston, director of the Archives, Rare Books and Records Management at KSU, said it is an act of faith and trust for the Cobb NAACP to hand over documents to another institution.
“Historical records are alive,” Livingston said.
The exchange of documents marked the second significant donation of records from the NAACP Branch as part of an ongoing effort to capture and preserve the history of the organization.
The KSU Archives has partnered with the Cobb NAACP since 2008 as the official repository for the Branch’s historical records, said Livingston.
A rare community gift
The newest addition to the collection consists of Bonner’s presidential records and other chapter activities, such as committee meetings for large events like Cobb’s celebration of Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery.
The collection also includes several rare newspapers, specifically editions of the Cobb Community News, Cobb Focus and Cobb News dating back to the 1970s and 1980s, which were published for and by the African-American community in Cobb, Livingston said.
“Some of our old stuff we hadn’t even seen ourselves,” said Bonner, referencing a front page from Oct. 11, 1975, about the Cobb NAACP’s efforts to raise the level of voter registration.
Livingston said the documents are an important resource for the Cobb NAACP and the whole community “to make sure the legacy of their work continues.”
The KSU Department of Archives and Records Management, which is open to the public, was established in 2004, with historical records pertaining to the university, manuscripts from significant Cobb individuals and families, the Bell Bomber Plant Photograph Collection, and historical records of the Marietta Housing Authority.
Livingston said the Cobb NAACP collection is already used heavily by KSU students and has served as the basis for a variety of class projects.
“These records are vitally significant for conveying what it is they have done,” Livingston said.
A ‘Desperate Youth’
Tuesday night’s program, entitled “An Evening Saluting the Past, Present and Future” was not just about the chapter’s history, but the steps that will be taken by the next generation.
“There are some young people who will hopefully give some insight in taking the gavel,” Bonner said in the afternoon before the event.
On Tuesday night, one young, impassioned rhythmic poet, Tianna Delarosa, recited her poem “Desperate Youth,” about adults behaving like kids and failing to raise today’s children.
“We bloom, but produce the wrong fruits,” Delarosa said. “We are youth and we are prone to try the unknown.”
Bonner said the future success of the Cobb NAACP is about economics and creating jobs to sustain their community.
“What are we doing to move forward?” Bonner asked. “We helped build this country, but that doesn’t show in the economics of the country.”
Bonner said advancement is about teaching children not to be dependent on other people for jobs. Instead, the focus by the Cobb NAACP is to educate, motivate and empower youth to financially provide for themselves later in life by starting their own businesses.
“I tell my granddaughter, ‘You don’t need to work for anybody,’” Bonner said.