COEUR d’ALENE — The curtain is opening on a new era for local civil rights: An NAACP chapter in Kootenai County.
That development will be highlighted during the “Day of Unity” event from noon to 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the Community Room of the Coeur d’Alene Public Library.
Coeur d’Alene-based TOC Diversity Resource received a charter on Jan. 27, sponsoring a branch of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People locally. TOC founder and director James McDay plans to highlight the organization’s work to secure political, educational, social and economic equality of rights. The NAACP’s vision is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race.
“The charter brings to the table some of the fresh ideas that there is a real problem of insider, outsider bias in our community that our leaders don’t recognize,” McDay said. “The NAACP is an 111-year-old organization that has been on the front lines, that has been effective across the nation. There has been a branch in Boise since the 1930s and Pocatello since the 1950s. I’m surprised it hasn’t been embraced across the state until now.”
McDay hopes the charter will bring action-based advocacy that is particularly engaged in education, economic development, and criminal justice.
“Just through TOC’s advocacy, we’ve learned that these are the issues that contribute to a lack of opportunity for folks of ethnic diversity here in Kootenai County,” McDay said. “Being African American here for 20 years I’ve seen a lot; I’ve survived a lot. This is my way of giving back.”
TOC stands for “The Other Choice” and aims to provide a platform for conversation about diversity inclusion and racial equity in Kootenai County that the founder believes isn’t readily available in other local grassroots organizations.
“We deal with civil rights issues and social justice,” McDay said. “Our mission is to advance racial equity in our community through educational resources.”
Also Saturday, Paulette Jordan will be the keynote speaker. Jordan is a previous gubernatorial candidate, Idaho legislator and Coeur d’Alene Tribal council woman who recently announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate. Jordan will speak on “Defending the West: Our People, Our Environment, Our Future.”
Jordan was scheduled before she announced her run for Congress, McDay said.
“With regard to the event and Ms. Jordan, we are nonpartisan, nonprofit,” he said. “We invited her to speak in June. We didn’t invite her to come talk about her campaign.”
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This story has been updated for clarity.