Chattanooga’s African-American Leadership Meets to Celebrate Jubilee Day

CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF-TV) – Chattanooga’s Violence Reduction Initiative will take a slightly new direction, if the new president of the NAACP has her way.
The leadership of the local organization was installed Thursday during its annual Jubilee Day Celebration.
Most of the leadership of Chattanooga’s African-American community gathered at the First Baptist Church for the Jubilee Day Celebration.
The occasion marks the day in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves.
It was also the day the NAACP changed leadership.
Outgoing president James Mapp says things are worse now for African-Americans in Chattanooga than they were back in the 60’s.

JAMES MAPP,PRESIDENT EMERITUS "Opportunity abounded….so much so that in 1969 we were considered an All-American city—cause opportunities abound…it doesn’t happen now."

New leadership for the historic civil rights organization was sworn-in during a program that included prayers and music.

James Mapp points to the lack of black police officers as one reason for the city’s gang problems and youth violence.

JAMES MAPP "Now here, we’ve got 479 employed positions …only 82 black and we’re nearly 40% of the population.
Those are things that will bring crime down."

New president Dr. Elenora Woods says her goal is to play a bigger role in the current violence reduction initiative now operating out of the office of Mayor Andy Berke.

DR. ELENORA WOODS, NAACP PRESIDENT "I will say this…if the program is working, we’ll support the initiative in that regard, but we won’t endorse it".

The Mayor’s violence reduction initiative is under the direction of Dr. Paul Smith who was at the Jubilee Celebration,but did not speak.

DR. ELENORA WOODS "Well, first of all…we need to get at the table. African Americans need to be at the table…talking when these decisions are being made..when organizations are forming, such as the VRI…I don’t remember being at the table."

Dr. Woods says Jubilee Day has presented us with ample opportunity to uphold our mission— to stand for economic, educational, social , political, and criminal justice.

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