Madame President, the NAACP, and Unapologetic Service

Article by · February 21, 2019

When she was only 13 years old, Clayton County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Chapter President, C. Synamon Baldwin was introduced to racism in America with a reading assignment given by her eighth grade teacher.

“After I read that book, I couldn’t believe my teacher assigned it. Why would any one want a child to read 100 Years of Lynching [by Ralph Ginzburg]? I was only 13 years old. I couldn’t believe that such horrible things happened to us (African Americans)”, she recalls.

Baldwin grew up in Detroit, Michigan. Even though both parents were involved in the civil rights movement they stood opposite on the approach to effect change. Synamon’s father, Leonard Baldwin was friends with Malcolm X so naturally his views about how African Americans progressed differed from her [Thelma Baldwin] mother’s. Synamon’s mom’s approach leaned more towards that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s, nonviolence. Baldwin’s introduction to the world of southern civil and human rights activism began in 1977 when she moved from Detroit to Atlanta. “My first order of business was to establish a church home. The closest church at that time was West Hunter Street Baptist Church where Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, Sr., Civil Rights leader was pastor”.

Synamon says that working for Dr. Abernathy was akin to attending an institution of higher education. “As my mentor he taught me the value of protest politics and electoral politics as related to the struggle for civil rights. Protest Politics is necessary to educate, heighten awareness and mobilization. Electoral Politics is the weapon to fight for inclusion and protection of the law.” Fondly remembering him as a mentor, teacher, and pastor to many young men and women, Synamon says that Dr. Abernathy was the BEST employer she ever had. “We knew that he cared about us and our families. He was compassionate, kind, and always sought to embrace and educate young people”, she recalls.

Late 2003 Baldwin was delivered to her Aunt’s home in Hampton, GA. from Grady Hospital. She’d been in a near death car accident in South Fulton County. The accident was so devastating that it took two years to recover.

Once fully recovered from the accident, it was time to get back to activism, however, this time the call was to Clayton County. “My aunt, Judy Heard and I started the Clayton Homeowner’s Association. Our goal was to educate constituency on civic literacy and to give politicians the opportunity to speak to constituency. “People just didn’t know who to complain to”, she recalls.

From 2005 to 2010 Synamon grew the homeowner’s organization while remaining committed to civil activism on a national level as well. By late 2010 she was worn out and in need of a break from it all. This much needed break took her back to her hometown, Detroit.

One afternoon while helping her grandson [affectionately known as DeeDee] with homework, he casually mentioned that he was running for his grade school’s student council secretary. Not realizing that she’d be facing her own words within minutes, Baldwin replied with, “Oh no, honey, you will not run for secretary, you have to run for president. Sometimes you have to step up and do things you don’t want to do [because it is your time].” And with that the phone rang

Since taking office as president of the chapter back in 2010, the focus has been to carryout the organization’s mission of ensuring the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.

Even though many consider Clayton County’s NAACP as a political vehicle, the organization is nonpartisan and focuses on ensuring that citizens are informed about voter rights, and voter registration. The chapter also provides with help getting students in college and staying there.

What’s been most rewarding for Baldwin is giving youth access to tools and technology through the NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ATC-SO) program.

ACT-SO is a yearlong achievement program designed to recruit, stimulate, and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students. For over forty years the mission of ACT-SO has been to prepare, recognize and reward youth of African descent who exemplify scholastic and artistic excellence.

“Not only have we given Clayton County students opportunities to the ACT-SO program but we have also taught them how to mobilize and how to effect change with power and courage.” Now serving in her fifth and final term, Baldwin can take pride in building and leaving a legacy that represents unapologetic service, courage, steadfastness and pride in a community.

1 Comment

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    Anne Herring

    I would like to become active in Clayton County NAACP.

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