More civil rights groups opening offices in Augusta

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December 8, 2006

The NAACP has been the big voice for civil rights in Augusta for years. Now several other groups are forming.

News 12's Jonathan Martin spoke with leaders of the new civil rights groups about their purpose and how they plan to bring about change.

All of these organizations agree there are a lot of issues in Augusta that need attention, from black on black crime to discrimination to fairness in education.

"We got a problem with the way we're being treated, as black people being treated, and it's time that we stop this sitting around and not doing anything to change it," said Bobby Price of the New Black Panthers.

The New Black Panthers, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the group New Order have all established chapters in Augusta this year.

The number of groups was a concern of some speakers at a town meeting Thursday night.

Some feel the new organizations designed to bring people together may be divisive, be just for show, or simply undermine the efforts of the NAACP.

Rev. Larry Fryer is local president of the SCLC. He says different groups are necessary to address the many different problems.

"This is a civil rights organization, and we're very sure that we will have no conflicts with the NAACP," he said.

The NAACP has recently spoken out against electronic voting machines and is investigating allegations of harassment at the Augusta Mall.

SCLC leaders say they are focusing more on fairness in education and holding leaders accountable.

New Order says crime is one of their top concerns.

"We are very concerned, especially about the black on black crime, the youth crime that's going on," said Gerald Rose of New Order by phone. "It's time to start doing things in Augusta."

Steve Kendrick is a member of both the NAACP and SCLC. He says he more groups means more people are aware, but says time will tell if there's walk behind the talk.

"For me, the proof in the pudding is when you have outcome, and it's going to be up to those leaders to make sure when they plan to do something, they have a plan and it's accountable and measurable," Kendrick said.

Leaders with the NAACP and SCLC say one issue they've worked on together is the Voting Rights Act.

We will have to wait and see how the work of these groups affects the community.