With a strong voice and the memories that come from experience, William McDonald shared with East Texans about a world that once was.
A world in which there were “white” fountains and “colored” fountains. There were swimming pools for African-Americans and others for whites.
In the midst of these challenges, there were people who opened doors for African-Americans and enabled them to seize opportunities.
“If we stand tall it’s because we stand on the backs of those who came before us,” he said quoting an African proverb. “Freedom comes with a price and responsibility.”
It was this message that McDonald shared with local residents during the 63rd Annual Freedom Fund Banquet of the Tyler Smith County Branch of the NAACP.
The event, held at the St. Louis Baptist Church, provided the local chapter with an opportunity to raise money and come together for a common cause.
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Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People exists to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority groups and citizens, among other causes.
Branch President Ernest Deckard said the organization still is relevant to the community because it provides African-Americans and others with the opportunity to sit down in a collaborative environment and talk about how to solve problems. It is a friendly environment filled with respect.
“It hurts me sometimes to see people that still are just haters,” Deckard said. “Are we one nation or are we a national of many? We’re still working on that one nation under God.”
McDonald, who is a Tyler native and now city manager in Marlin, talked about the relevance of the NAACP today; the fact that society still has a ways to go on the road to becoming color blind; and that a new segregation exists maybe not in physical locations but in expectations.
He said that the message preached by the media and society often is one of discouragement to minorities.
He said that today’s generation must remember how people opened doors for them and they must follow suit and help others.