ALLENTOWN | The greatest civil rights issue facing modern day blacks is the destruction drugs are causing in their communities, eastern Pennsylvania NAACP leaders said at a Saturday meeting.
It is an issue they plan to bring to the attention of national NAACP leaders at their annual conference next monday.
Back home, the local NAACP leaders said community members themselves have to fight the problem, especially with the involvement of black churches.
"We have to take back our communities," said Thomas Smith Jr., a Bethlehem Township resident who is president of NAACP's state conference. "When you bring drugs into my community, you're violating my civil rights and my family's."
Black churches can be involved in the fight by investing their funds in local job creation, said Donald Clark, president of the NAACP's Willow Grove, Pa. branch.
Only 14 adults and four children attended the daylong meeting at the Lehigh Valley Heritage Center.
Smith urged the group not to be discouraged by the turnout. But he did note the absence of some needed participants in their fight -- young parents. Most attendees were older than 50, he said.
"There's basically a gap" between them and young parents, Smith said. "Somehow we have got to lock ourselves together with them and work on improvements."
In addition to drugs, attendees said rap music and cell phones add to the problems in black communities.
Linda Renick, director of NAACP's eastern Pennsylvania section, called rap "vile music."
"This is going into our children and we need to take a stand about it," she said,
Reporter Lynn Olanoff can be reached at 908-475-8044 or by e-mail at [email protected].