The Santa Clarita Valley is now home to a new branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, following a recent vote from the association’s board of directors.
Approval comes after Valencia resident Thea-Marie Perkins spearheaded efforts with more than 100 Santa Clarita Valley residents, she said Wednesday.
“I spent a good amount of time over the past year developing our relationship with the NAACP and calling upon our community and our neighbors, creating a committee of activists to help them rally everyone they knew to join us for membership drives to join a charter,” said Perkins.
She is serving as the chapter’s organizing committee, meaning she’s the interim president pending elections for those who will be running for different offices.
Part of what motivated Perkins to pave the way for a local branch was the social unrest that swept the nation, including in the SCV, following the death of George Floyd, she said.
“I think it was some of the turmoil in the community and the country as a whole with regard to racial inequity, cultural bias and race-based decisions. It had really reached the point particularly after Mr. Floyd’s murder.”
Perkins said tensions only heightened locally after three teenagers, two of whom are Black, were detained at gunpoint by an SCV sheriff’s deputy with an AR-15 in August. The incident, which went viral on social media, led to city officials calling for a full investigation into the Sheriff’s Station response and the removal of the deputy during the investigation. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department is reviewing its deployment of AR-15s.
A February 2020 incident in which Perkins’ elementary school son was bullied and falsely accused by another student of having a gun in his backpack, but instead had Valentines for classmates, was another large motivator, she said.
“These types of things really, really created such a movement in our community that we had no other choice but to organize,” said Perkins.
While the chapter has yet to receive its official branch number and go through the elections process, members recently celebrated the launch with a virtual Black History Month event along with the NAACP Beverly Hills/Hollywood branch.
The goal of the SCV group is to become a staple location for “political, educational and social equality of rights of people of color, to eliminate the race-based discrimination,” said Perkins.
Since some of its members are also on the city of Santa Clarita’s Human Relations Roundtable, another goal is to build strong relationships among the two groups, she added.
Perkins said those interested in becoming members, who do not have to be Black, should watch out for announcements and updates via the NAACP SCV Facebook page or by contacting [email protected].