Initiatives include battling misconceptions about the organization
The southern Burlington branch of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) inducted a new president in January.
During the ceremony, Tyrus Ballard put forth some initiatives he would like to see the branch undertake moving forward. But just who is he?
“I am about the work, not the label,” Ballard explained. “It is why I’m sort of a jack of all trades in advocacy. I’ve done mutual aid, protest, government work, after-school programs, etc. I work with pragmatists and radicals, organizations that were in year one and the oldest civil rights organization (in the) NAACP.
“I value all sides of advocacy and try not to get caught up in the subjectivity of what is the ‘right of way.'”
As for growth and the recruitment of new members, Ballard has a genuine interest in the branch broadening its thinking and its approach to situations.
“I want my branch to focus on being modern, community engagement, and youth initiatives,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for NAACP, but it is no secret it has struggled being up to date, so being genuinely progressive will not only create the impact that folks want, but attract membership.”
Ballard also wants to put to rest some misconceptions about the NAACP, what it does and how it is still involved in the community years after the civil rights struggle.
“The biggest misconception is that we don’t do anything anymore,” he noted. “On the state level, we’ve been involved with a lot of major legislation, from the independent prosecutor bill to cannabis reform. In the southern Burlington County branch, we worked tirelessly during the 2021 Mount Laurel protest to get what could best be described as a domestic terrorist arrested.
“We received national recognition for calling out the hypocrisy and racism for producing Harriet while trying to overturn the 1866 Civil Rights Act.”
Ballard is clear on his initiatives for the branch, which serves Bass River, Cinnaminson, Evesham, Lumberton, Maple Shade, Medford, Medford Lakes, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, Palmyra, Riverton, Shamong, Tabernacle and Washington Township.
“Education,” he noted. “Our community has shown the most interest in this, and it is the area we receive the most requests for help with,” he pointed out. “Progressive public safety, harm reduction, restorative justice, increase in resources, and anything that increases public safety without criminalization.
“Youth initiatives. The NAACP has a lot of great youth programs that I want the youth of my branch’s jurisdiction to benefit from,” Ballard added.
For those who would like to get involved, Ballard has a few bits of advice.
“Come with a willingness to work and contribute your talents and skills,” he said. “Don’t think you have to have a political science degree or even experience in activism. I certainly didn’t at first, and was very unassuming when I first joined.
“I just knew I was tired of just being mad and talking about issues and decided to get involved the best way I knew how.”
For more information about the southern Burlington branch of the NAACP visit www.sbcnaacp.org