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Terrell County NAACP celebrates Emancipation Proclamation

Members come together to honor freedom document

Dawson mayor, Christopher Wright, who survived a shooting in his home on Halloween night, briefly addressed attendees of the celebration, then led the group in the spiritual number, “It’s Another New Year and I Ain’t Gone.” (Staff Photo: Jim West)

Dawson mayor, Christopher Wright, who survived a shooting in his home on Halloween night, briefly addressed attendees of the celebration, then led the group in the spiritual number, “It’s Another New Year and I Ain’t Gone.” (Staff Photo: Jim West)

DAWSON — It was a joyous time at the Beaulahland Baptist Church in Dawson on New Year’s morning. There was fellowship, food and music, great for ringing in the new year but also serving to celebrate the old — in this case, a 151-year-old document.

It was also an opportunity for Dawson Mayor Christopher Wright to speak about the recent attack on him on Halloween night in Dawson

Members, ministers and guests from around the county and beyond were there to honor President Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation on the first day of January, 1863. The event is presented each New Year’s Day by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Terrell County branch.

Visiting officials included Kenneth Cutts from Congressman Sanford Bishop’s Office, Craig Ernest, Terrell County district attorney, Denise Freeman, candidate for State School Superintendent from Lincoln, Tammy Green with the state NAACP and Wright.

Wright, recovering from multiple gunshot wounds he received from an intruder on Halloween night, briefly addressed the crowd of more than 150 people.

“What they say is, ‘if you want him dead, shoot him in the head,” Wright told the cheering group. “But that didn’t happen.”

Wright then led enthusiastic participants in the spiritual song, “It’s Another New Year and I Ain’t Gone.”

Later in the program, the Rev. Calvin Stephens of Sardis Baptist Church in Dawson approached the podium with a length of heavy chain around his neck, then held it for the crowd to see.

“Chains were never any good when they’re used for the wrong purpose,” Stephens said. “Think about the effects of slavery. We were plucked up from our homelands. Mama gone to one plantation, daddy gone to another. My name is Stephens. I suspect my ancestors lived on the Stephens plantation. Those are just some of the effects of slavery.”

Ezekiel Holley, president of the Terrell County NAACP, said the organization’s resolutions for 2014 include increasing membership and overall voter registration, petitioning Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to participate in the Medicaid program of the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare), urging Georgians to become more active in issues involving gun violence, abolishing the death penalty and keeping children in school.