Students, educators, community organizers and local political leaders gathered at Clinton Junior College on Wednesday to mark a historic moment.
With the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's blessing, the two-year historically black, liberal arts college officially crowned its first NAACP chapter.
"The NAACP is the oldest, boldest, most hated and most effective civil rights organization in the world ... and now it has a home on the campus of Clinton Junior College," said Melvin Poole, president of Rock Hill's NAACP branch.
That's thanks to a "courageous group of special students," he said. "We look forward to working hand-in-hand with you."
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Clinton students have been building the chapter since last year, after Rock Hill City Council member Susie Hinton encouraged them to launch one.
Even before Wednesday, the group launched coat, food and toy drives to help needy families.
With Angelo Geter, a Clinton learning specialist, advising, they've been promoting the chapter on campus and enlisting members.
"Immediately, their interest was piqued," Hinton said.
The group's top focus this year will be getting classmates and the community involved in politics, chapter president Jaquar Switzer said.
"We want to go out and try to empower people to vote," said Switzer, a 25-year-old sophomore from Winston-Salem, N.C.
Clinton's chapter joins at least 78 others across the state, Poole said.
York County is home to six, with branches and youth chapters for Rock Hill and western York County and a college chapter at Winthrop University.
Kambrell Garvin, president of Winthrop's student body, gave a rousing speech at Wednesday's ceremony.
"Skeptics" may question the need for the NAACP, he said.
"So long as more black men reside in prison than dorm rooms, the NAACP is needed."
So long as blacks are disproportionately impacted by economic crises, "the NAACP is needed," he said.
"I am determined today that courage will not skip a generation. I came by simply to say our work is not done."
That spirit is what drove Switzer to volunteer when his classmate Narcissa Lewis told him about the effort to start a chapter.
"It's been interesting and challenging and fun," Switzer said. "It's an experience of a lifetime. I'm just glad to be a part of it."