In the late Spring of 1943, an Ogden policeman shot and killed a young Black man under very suspicious circumstances. The Black community was much enraged and came to the conclusion that we needed a strong National Civil Rights Organization here in Ogden to help fight our battles.
Mrs. Mary Louise Finch was chosen to spearhead a drive to sign up at least fifty (50) paid up adults at $2.00 each to secure a charter, establishing a branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The drive of this committee was very successful reporting more than seventy (70) memberships by Carl J. McIntosh, secretary of the group. The charter was awarded in early 1944.
Mrs. Ruby Timms Price became the First Branch President of the Ogden NAACP. Upon Mrs. Price stepping down, Mrs. Sadie Louden was elected the Second President of the Branch. She resigned later because of poor health. Women played a big role in the early history of the Ogden Branch. They accepted the responsibility of leadership, standing in the gap rather than just sitting down and doing nothing. We applaud their efforts and the contributions they have made to this community.
Before Mrs. Louden resigned, she encouraged yours truly to accept the nomination for President. I was selected the Third President of the Ogden Branch. Now, I quickly learned that the job would not be easy. The Branch was a lot like the mood of the stock market you know!! Full of highs and lows – peaks and valleys. More valleys than peaks and yes, more lows than highs.
In the late 1940’s after the end of the war (World War II) to end all wars, people were slow in renewing their memberships. They seemed to be tired of the battle and wanted to take a break, but all buckled down and survived. When it was time for me aside, I actively sought to recruit Mr. Marshall N. White. He was elected the Fourth President of the Ogden Branch. Unfortunately, his term was cut short when an escaped prisoner shot and killed him. He was detective sergeant on duty.
Mr. James H. Gillespie, the 1st Vice President, moved in the void becoming the Fifth President of our Branch. Jim had a long tenure as our President. He served more than three (3) decades in that position. He also served a Chairman of our Region (1). Following Mr. Gillespie’s resignation, Mrs. Betty Sawyer became the Sixth President of the Ogden Branch NAACP. Mrs. Sawyer chaired many communities within the Branch. She currently serves as Director of the Project Success Program in the Ogden area.
Four years ago, Mrs Sawyer passed the torch to Mr. H.C. Massey, who became the Seventh President of the Ogden Branch. We congratulate him on four years of faithful service and we ask him to make himself available to the new President, if needed.
We are a part of a national association that was born in adversity 95 years ago on President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. We too, were born in a crisis situation 60 years ago. Today, together, we are alive and well!
In 1914 Mary White Ovington suggested a poem by James Russell Lowell, “the President Crisis,” that expresses a fitting creed to all of us: Old and young, Black and white, all in between, north and south, east and west…..
“Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide; In the strife of truth with falsehood for the good or evil side; Some great cause, God’s New Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight; Part the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right; And the choice goes by forever ‘twix that darkness and that light.
Then to side with truth is noble when we share her wretched crust; E’re her cause bring fame and profit and t’s prosperous to be just; Then it is the brave man chooses, while the coward stands aside; Doubting in his object spirit, till his Lord is crucified; And the multitude make virtue of the of the faith they had denied.”