Derrick Johnson, NAACP President

By Sandra Long Weaver

NASHVILLE, TN — NAACP President Derrick Johnson on June 29 wasn’t expecting to address a “red army” of women ready to take action on social justice issues at the 46th annual Southern Regional Conference of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. in Nashville.

But when he looked out at the audience of over 4,500 women dressed in red, some with berets, as well at the sorority’s Social Action Luncheon, he said it was “time to stop talking and do social action; do social justice.”

He pointed out that the Supreme Court had just handed down a decision limiting the rights of workers’ unions, especially those working in the public sector. African American women make up the largest part of that sector, he said. “It is a direct attack on our livelihoods, he said. 

He added that with the Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy retiring, it is important to look at how our communities might be affected. “If President Trump gets another appointment to the Supreme Court,” we are looking at setbacks, Johnson said.

“We have to move away from the ego-centric leadership style and look at the numbers,“ he said. “Numbers are important.”

Johnson said “we cannot operate from a place of fluff, the illusion of doing good. Our democracy is under attack.”

The luncheon included a tribute to Delta Sigma Theta women who are either serving in or running for public office. Honored from Nashville were Vivian Wilhoite ,State. Sen. Thelma Harper and Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton. 

State Rep. Brenda Gilmore, a member of the National Social Action commission and the Nashville Alumnae chapter delivered greetings to luncheon attendees.

Also, Keith Pitts of the Nashville chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, delivered a stirring interpretation of a collection of speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His monologue focused on the social justice issues in Dr. King’s talks.

Johnson said we have to look at the way the lines are drawn for voting districts. “Once the lines are drawn, they will help determine the outcome of elections for the next 10 years.”

We have to look at the numbers in our communities and get more people registered to vote, he said. “We can make a difference by simply increasing voter turnout.”