December 6, 2013

NAACP leader to speak at MLK banquet


— Preparations are nearing completion for the 2014 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dinner.

This year, James R. Mapp of Chattanooga takes the dais as featured speaker. He will speak on the theme “King’s Dream is a Work in Progress.”

Mapp currently serves as president of the Chattanooga Chapter of the NAACP but previously served nearly three years as president of the Tennessee NAACP. His is one of the few remaining voices of civil rights activists who worked with King and his recall of the daily struggles and turmoil of those turbulent times is certain to reawaken memories that have too often gone dim on a tragic slice of American history.

Until he was 10, Mapp lived with his grandfather in Mayfield, Ga., where he was born. In 1937 an unscrupulous businessman literally stole the family farm and it was then that he moved to Chattanooga where he finished high school before moving on to college at Tennessee A&I where he graduated with a degree in business. Through the intervening years, his impact on race relations in Hamilton County has been enormous. It was his challenge against segregated schools in Chattanooga that for the first time brought his and other black children into integrated classrooms.

The 2014 event begins at 7 p.m. on Jan. 18 at the Mack Gaston Community Center in Dalton. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the community center or Fast Foto on Hamilton Street or by calling Joan McGovern at (706) 529-6974.