North Shore branch of NAACP in the works

Natalie Bowers, left, and Tachou Dubuisson Brown, right, members of a committee looking to organize a North Shore branch of the NAACP, stand with NCAA New England Area Conference president Juan Cofield.Courtesy photo

HAMILTON — A group of Hamilton-Wenham residents are looking to form what would be the first North Shore chapter of the NAACP.

The residents have created an organizing committee and are seeking to sign up at least 100 members, the minimum number needed to be granted a charter by the NAACP's board of directors.

"If we're really going to make changes, it's not just about the protests, it's not just about the marches," said Tachou Dubuisson Brown, a Hamilton resident and one of the leaders of the organizing committee.

The NAACP, or National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was founded in 1909 and is the largest civil rights organization in the nation, with more than 2,200 branches across the country.

The organization lists 21 branches in Massachusetts, including one based in Lynn. But that branch is no longer running, according to organizers of the North Shore effort.

The campaign to start a North Shore branch is being led by the Hamilton-Wenham Human Rights Coalition, which formed after the killing of George Floyd on May 25 by a Minneapolis police officer. The coalition has about 350 members, and organizers said they want to expand the effort beyond Hamilton and Wenham to include the entire North Shore, including Cape Ann

"It's the next step," said Natalie Bowers, a member of the NAACP organizing committee. "We really want numbers. We know there are people like us out there that want to be active and be part of the solution and on the right side of history."

Dubuisson Brown, who is African American, said she would like to "change the narrative in terms of influence" in Hamilton, where she said she can count the number of minorities "on one hand."

"People here in Hamilton view themselves differently from everybody else," Dubuisson Brown said. "That's what has to change. There's not one minority on any town committee in Hamilton."

Dubuisson Brown grew up in Beverly, left to pursue her modeling career, and returned to the North Shore to raise her family. She owns the Village Oasis yoga studio in Beverly.

Dubuisson Brown said the protests since the killing of Floyd have "drawn back the curtain on things that still exist."

"We've all been complacent," she said. "It took another dire situation to bring this back to the forefront. Hopefully this time around more people are willing to be educated about systemic changes. I feel like there's more willingness to go there by everybody in the community. White people are starting to look at themselves and the roles they play."

Juan Cofield, president of the NAACP's New England Area Conference, said in a statement said he was "thrilled" to hear about the interest of North Shore residents in forming an NAACP branch.

"Membership is power," he said. "The larger our membership, the greater access we have to political leaders in Massachusetts and in Washington."

Anyone interested in joining the NAACP North Shore Branch can request a membership application by emailing northshoremanaacp@gmail.com.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535 or pleighton@gloucestertimes.com.

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