It took eight years of raising money, the relocation of a 65-year-old building and perseverance. But the Tallahassee chapter of the NAACP finally has a place to call its own.
More than 100 people attended a ribbon-cutting Friday in Frenchtown for a still-being-renovated building at 719 W. Brevard St.
The building becomes the first permanent home of the Tallahassee chapter of the NAACP, which has operated out of rental offices since its founding in 1916.
The event drew almost all city and county commissioners, state Rep. Alan Williams, numerous city officials, plus Florida A&M interim president Larry Robinson, an NAACP chapter president while a research scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, founded in 1909, is the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.
“The synergy of energy of our community elders is something I normally only feel in church,” said Nick Maddox, chair of the Leon County Commission. “But I feel that same energy here today. This is about a struggle for the people who can’t struggle for themselves.”
The new home has been named for Charles Evans, who was recently named president emeritus of the local chapter of the NAACP.
Frenchtown businessman Joseph Franklin erected the building in 1947 at 611 N. Macomb St., and it operated as a cleaners until the 1970s. When the block it was on was slated for redevelopment, Evans began efforts for the NAACP to obtain it.
By 2007, Evans succeeded in raising $130,000 from the city ($40,000), county ($50,000) and NAACP to move the building to a city-owned lot at 719 W. Brevard St.
But the project was stymied for several years by the economic downturn. Finally, in 2010, The Frenchtown Community Redevelopment Area, which uses property taxes for redevelopment projects, awarded $200,000 to restore the first floor of the building.
The first floor houses the offices of the Tallahassee chapter of the NAACP, and has room for the Florida A&M, Florida State University and Florida chapters of the NAACP. The first floor has a civil rights museum.
The NAACP needs to raise up to an additional $60,000 to renovate the second floor of the building into a conference center. The organization will host a fund-raising roast for Evans on May 16 to kickstart that effort.
Keywords:Bill Proctor, John E. Dailey, Larry Robinson, NAACP, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Nick Maddox, Representative Alan Williams, Vince Long
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