DECATUR — George P. Mitchell, president of the NAACP state conference, was in Decatur on Saturday afternoon to help set the stage for its future endeavors.
“We are meeting today to inform people of what the organization’s committees have done and are doing,” Mitchell said. “We maintain committees on education, criminal justice and legal redress. In Illinois, we have some 25 active branches, and our work at the state conference is to support the branches and provide guidance when needed.”
Decatur was hosting the NAACP’s quarterly state conference meeting.
Mitchell, who is also president of his local branch in Evanston, previewed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Lobby Day in Springfield, set for May 20. Members of the organization from all over the state will travel to the Capitol to make their cases to lawmakers.
“We’re going to bring members of our branches to talk to state legislators about issues we feel are important, not just for NAACP but the entire community,” Mitchell said. “A big portion will be about education. We have a large education committee, headed by Dr. (Jeanelle) Norman, who is the branch president here in Decatur. Funding is a major issue, a big-time issue, but also accountability for results is another. All too often, we find that communities have different expectations for low-income areas than others, which is not right.”
Other issues that will be addressed at Lobby Day include the NAACP’s support for Illinois House Bill 5723, the recently passed “sealing bill” for nonviolent criminals. The Decatur branch of NAACP will even be bringing five “nonviolent felons” with them to the Springfield as part of their Lobby Day presentation.
“What the bill does is seal the records of minor nonviolent criminals so it won’t be an impediment to them getting jobs in the future,” Mitchell said. “It passed the House, and now it has to go to the Senate, so we are trying to show full support.”
Other issues include voter registration for criminals in state prisons. Mitchell said he expects the organization to make its case effectively on Lobby Day.
“Hopefully we’ll have a very successful day,” he said. “In fact, I’m sure we will; we usually get a good reception when we go.”