NAACP president hosts rally to address representation and history

NAACP president hosts rally to address representation and history

NAACP president hosts rally to address representation and history
March 02
19:47 2016

John Hoang | Staff Writer

@jhoang1995

Standing under the Confederate statue on the Square, NAACP president Willie Hudspeth addressed a crowd on racial issues plaguing the community and the lack of minority representation.

On Feb. 27, Hudspeth held a rally to educate and gather attention to local black history issues. His life experiences, he said, have affected his worldviews and given him a passion for making a change in American history.

During the rally, he told life stories of how he faced obstacles as a second-class citizen in the very country he was born and raised in.

“I grew up during segregation. My mind is skewed,” Hudspeth said. “I only see things a certain way. I’m messed up.”

Attending segregated schools in his childhood and serving in Vietnam, he said he struggled to come to terms with the injustice he witnessed and experienced.

“As a young man I was just mad at everybody and everything that wasn’t my color,” Hudspeth said.

To deal with the hardships, he turned to religion and spirituality, praying often.

“’I don’t know what to do, God,’” Hudspeth said in a prayer Saturday night. “‘I’m mad they keep holding me down.’ And [God] said ‘Get it together, everybody is the same.’”

Hudspeth_rally_05

Courtesy | Lindell Singleton

As he settled down and had children, Hudspeth’s perspective on race changed. His kids didn’t have to face the hardships he experienced, and they were raised in a world where racism didn’t define their lives.

“They [are] just growing up just as happy as can be with everybody,” Hudspeth said. “They didn’t care about differences between me and them.”

During the rally, a petition was passed, detailing a need to discuss the issues of representation and lack of cultural history on Denton’s Square. As people came and stopped to see the commotion in the area, Hudspeth welcomed them in to listen to his stories.

“I don’t want to create anger,” he said. “[I] just want to see people coming together.”

Even though progress has been made to address the issues in the black community, Hudspeth said he still feels certain problems haven’t received a solution. He spoke about the history of Zack Rawlings, a former slave, who was freed and worked at the Denton Courthouse. Rawlings received little payment for working there but maintained a good reputation and attitude.

“He figured it out. He wasn’t mad about slavery,” Hudspeth said. “He just worked hard and took care of his family.”

Despite being an ideal citizen and a model to the black community, there was nothing built to remember Rawlings’ life. Hudspeth saw this as a major injustice and a slight to the family.

“I talked to the commissioner’s course, they didn’t even know who he was,” Hudspeth said. “That’s why we need more black history on the Square.”

He expressed his disgust and sadness over Quakertown, a former black community located close to Texas Woman’s University. The community was destroyed and the former residents were evicted to make room for a park.

“They uprooted them—that’s why it should be remembered in Quakertown,” Hudspeth said. “If you knew their names [people who perpetrated it], you’d say, ‘Shame on you.’”

Hudspeth and the NAACP are working to address many issues within the black community.

Hudspeth_Rally_06

Courtesy | Lindell Singleton

“We are trying to alleviate issues of attrition of black and Hispanic males not finishing school,” documenter Lindell Singleton said.

Carrolton resident Zainil Momin said he agreed that minority groups like African-Americans are underrepresented.

“After today, it seems like they are really underrepresented—it’s like they don’t even exist,” Momin said. “There isn’t an accurate representation of the people who lived here.”

Hudspeth said he not only wants to represent black history, but also show more history of other ethnic groups.

Standing next to the monument, one protester held up a sign to express his view on the lack of history and how racism still remains prevalent in modern America.

“It’s disappointing that we still have racism. It might not even end in my life,” the protester, local activist Thomas Robinson, said.

Another activist said it is necessary to create more monuments acknowledging the past.

“No one really answered for these sins, for all this oppression,” Denton activist Cody Goodman said. “We have to make an effort to not endorse those who fought to oppress. Then we can do some healing.”

Hudspeth managed to change the mind of at least one person in attendance.

“I think they have changed,” Denton resident Jeff Tye said. “I originally saw this as history being destroyed, but he saw this as glorifying [the Confederacy]. I don’t feel offended, but he does, as it reminds him of a past where it was glorified.”

Hudspeth said though some people are good and some bad, ultimately everyone is the same. Pointing to the color of his skin, he said, “This has nothing to do with it. Nothing.”

Featured Image: Courtesy | Lindell Singleton

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