Special to the Fort Mill Times
Their hope is to bring the community together in a stand against inequality.
When Lisa Faircloth first moved to Fort Mill in 2009, she wanted to find a way to help her new community.
“I like helping people whatever way I can,” she said.
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After doing some research, Faircloth realized Fort Mill has never had its own chapter of the National Association for Advancement of Colored People. Faircloth, who was an active NAACP supporter before moving to Fort Mill from Washington State, decided to change that.
After speaking to the president of Rock Hill’s NAACP chapter, Faircloth started the process of bringing the organization to Fort Mill. For the Fort Mill NAACP to become a recognized charter chapter, the local branch needed a minimum 100 members. It achieved just that last week.
The Fort Mill NAACP signed up members No. 99 and 100 at its Aug. 19 meeting. Faircloth never doubted they could do it.
“I believe you can do all things through Christ,” she said.
Having a local chapter can help the community on several fronts, Faircloth said, including combating racism.
“[Racism] is right in front of us,” Faircloth said.
Faircloth said she had a racial slur directed at her and that she received angry phone calls after a Fort Mill Times story that ran earlier this year first broke the news of an effort to start a local NAACP chapter.
“Yes, I was called the ‘N-word,’ but it's OK. I know who I am,” Faircloth said.
She also saw some comments posted online after that first story ran that derided the effort. Faircloth said she was offended by a Confederate flag she saw on display in Fort Mill but felt better after talking to the property owner. She said he replaced with an American flag.
"I am so proud to know that we got over 100 people," Committee member Robert Watson said. "It makes me happy."
The process wasn’t free of challenges, however. Faircloth said she faced much resistance when she first started, but that only pushed her even more to succeed, she said. Some of the group’s most supportive members were hesitant to join at first, like eventual treasurer Donnie Bradley, Faircloth said.
Now, she said, while Bradley smiled and nodded, “He is one of our biggest movers for membership.”
And he’s not alone.
“We’re here, and we are not going anywhere,” Faircloth said.
However, Faircloth stressed that the NAACP is not limited to one race or group of people.
“It’s not a black thing – it’s an equality thing,” she said.
Faircloth said she found a group of passionate people to help make her dream a reality.
“God will put the right people around you and help you accomplish your goal if you put it before the lord,” she said. “I never could have done it alone.”
All the committee members celebrated reaching their goal of 100 members last week.
After hearing the news, the group’s Assistant Chairperson, Diane Cureton, fought back tears of joy as she thanked everyone in attendance.
“I have a passion for equality, fairness and rights,” she said. “We do not take [your help] lightly. I’m just grateful.”
Cureton sees a bright future for the chapter.
“I have great expectations of what God is going to do with this mission,” she said. “It’s empowering.”
Cureton hopes they will continue to add young members. Currently, the chapter’s members range in age from 3 to 84.
For committee member Tounorris Walker, joining the Fort Mill NAACP chapter was a chance to bring change.
"It's something that we needed," she said.
Tounorris joined the chapter after reading about Faricloth's efforts. The two met and Tounorris knew immediately she wanted to become a part of the mission.
"Right then I felt a connection," she said.
Once the group’s books are reviewed by the NAACP board, Fort Mill will have its chapter and the group will begin the process of hiring officers and becoming a bigger part of the community, Faircloth said.
While Faircloth said she will not seek the office of president, she will remain actively involved in the chapter. Most likely, she will help organize fundraisers for the group.
Faircloth wants to help the Fort Mill chapter “stay strong, thrive and do better.”
Even though they are not yet charted, the group will continue to meet at 7 p.m. every first and third Monday at United AME Zion Church, located at 804 Steele Street in Fort Mill.
“There are still people who want to join,” Faircloth said. “We will keep moving forward and gaining members.”
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