Staff Report

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — Earlier this year, Rock Hill hosted the annual state convention and civil rights conference for the S.C. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for the first time in 25 years.

The four day event, Oct. 10-13, was highlighted by a visit from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was given the Flame of Freedom Award in recognition of his 50 years of service and leadership.

Dorene Boular, president of the Rock Hill branch of the NAACP, was a guest on the Palmetto Report to discuss the convention.

Boular said the event focused on the 2020 election and census and included workshops on election protection, gerrymandering and voter registration.

“At this moment, I think we are, in Rock Hill, in a good place (with the state of civil rights),” she said.

“There is always room for improvement and there is always room to have that talk at the table, because some things we go through as African Americans are not always understood by other ethnic groups,” said Boular. “So it’s always good to be able to come together and to just share the things that we are concerned about.”

Boular said she thinks affordable housing is one of the most pressing issues facing people in Rock Hill.

“That has been a major concern. It has been addressed somewhat, but it’s still a concern for the NAACP, as well as other groups in Rock Hill and in York County,” she said. “We have a lot of people who are renting and it’s crazy what the cost for rent is.”

Boular said the NAACP is working to educate residents about homeownership and make them aware of assistance that is available, such as first-time buyer programs or Habitat for Humanity, in order to find affordable housing.

Other speakers at the convention included Rock Hill Mayor John Gettys and Brenda C. Murphy, president of the S.C. State Conference of the NAACP.

The convention also addressed gentrification, which is the process of renovating an area so that it conforms to middle- and upper-class tastes.

“To me it means displacement of low to moderate income families. To me it means, I’ve lived in a section of town all my life and then all of the sudden, property is being purchased and the property is being bought up and I can’t even afford to stay there and live there anymore,” said Boular.