A longtime member of local law enforcement has been selected to serve as the new president of the Merced branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Darryl Davis, 50, was sworn in as the group’s president during a brief ceremony at the Merced Civic Center last week. He’ll oversee the operations of the civil rights organization, which has been in existence in Merced since 1937. Davis was selected by the group’s executive board.
Educating people and building relationships are key to reaching the group’s goals, Davis said, and the local chapter is aiming to take on serious social issues.
Davis said his first goal is to ramp up membership. “I want to develop a stronger membership,” he said. “I want to build those relationships within the community.”
He said the NAACP could benefit from encouraging more white people and others to become members – after all, whites played an important role in the organization’s founding.
According to the NAACP’s website, the national group was formed partly in response to the lynchings of blacks and the 1908 race riot in Springfield, Ill.
Appalled at the violence that was committed against blacks, a group of white liberals that included Mary White Ovington and Oswald Garrison Villard, both the descendants of abolitionists, William English Walling and Dr. Henry Moscowitz issued a call for a meeting to discuss racial justice.
Some 60 people, seven of whom were black (including W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Mary Church Terrell), signed the call, which was released on the centennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, according to the NAACP’s site.
“No matter whether they’re from the north side or south side, if you build relationships with the right people, you can start getting things accomplished,” Davis said.
Davis said his top priorities come from problems occurring locally, as well as issues in the news on the national level. Davis listed his top issues and goals:
▪ Addressing the use of the “N-word” by young people on school campuses.
▪ Finding ways to empower young men with the proper attitude toward parenthood.
▪ Addressing human trafficking – a form of slavery for women and children.
▪ Including community leadership from church ministries.
▪ Addressing the effects of gangs and incarceration on minority youths.
▪ Holding educational forums covering topics like police encounters and lawful protest.
Originally from West Virginia, Davis moved to Merced County in 1987 when he was serving in the Air Force and stationed at Castle Air Force Base, he said. Davis, who currently works as a police officer at UC Merced, has also worked as a deputy in the Merced County Sheriff’s Department and an investigator in the District Attorney’s Office.
Those connections are part of what could make Davis successful as president, said Dr. Donald Godbold, who has known him for about five years.
“He has put himself in a position to make a difference in this community, especially in regard to African Americans,” he said.
Godbold said he and Davis share an interest in giving hope and being mentors to people, but particularly to young black men. He noted that Merced County, where the unemployment rate often hovers at 12 percent or higher, can be a tough place to find opportunities.
He went on to say he believes Davis’ dedication to and connections in the community give him some of the tools he’ll need to succeed as president. “He has a personal investment in the community and in strengthening the African American community,” Godbold said.
Davis has been a member of Merced’s branch for many years, though he took some time off from it recently while dealing with outside issues. Dave said he came back and decided to take on the challenge of the top spot in the local NAACP because he wants to help people.
“I do it in law enforcement, and I’ve done it pretty much all my life,” Davis said.
Lew Braxton, who served as NAACP president for nearly a decade, spoke highly of Davis, calling him “an excellent man for the position.”
Sun-Star staff writer Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: “Merced Matters” appears every Monday. In it we will tell the stories of Mercedians – ordinary people doing extraordinary things, extraordinary people doing ordinary things and a lot in between. Contact Victor Patton at email@example.com or (209) 385-2431 with your ideas for “Merced Matters.”