Middlesex County NAACP Branch History
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In 1946 the Portland/Middletown NAACP Branch was formed by a group of concerned African Americans from both towns. Mr. Roosevelt Steele, a Portland resident, became the first president. The Branch thrived for several years taking a stand for the rights of African Americans during the early days of the civil rights movement. Earlier Presidents were Mr. Charles Ghent, Mr. Roosevelt Steele, Sr., Rev. William Davage, and Captain Edward Jackson.
It was years later, when Captain Edward B. Jackson, retired member of the Middletown Police force and Mrs. Reba Moses, a community activist, met with Mr. Willie Walton to talk about forming a branch of the NAACP in Middletown. The group met with Mr. Benjamin Andrews, President of the CT State Conference of NAACP Branches. Notices were sent to all the churches in the community inviting members to attend a meeting at the Idella Howell Daycare Center. There were 98 people who attended the meeting. Mr. Willie Walton became the first president of the re-established Middlesex County NAACP Branch. He served three terms as the president and was responsible for the establishment of the Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration and formation of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Committee of Greater Middletown, Inc., under Mr. Richard Thompson, who was the Education Chair for the branch at that time. Rev. Mack Elder served as the committee’s first president. The committee later became a separate 501(c)3 entity under the leadership of its’ second president, Lillie Mae Fitzpatrick.
One of the branch’s earliest issues, uniting the city residents, stemmed from the death of a homeless man who froze to death. Both Black and white citizens came together and marched in protest over the lack of housing. The group demonstrated for three days. In the end, the Eddy Shelter and other shelters were opened in Middlesex County, and they remain to this day.
In its earlier days, the branch published the “Watchdog,” a weekly paper. James “Cup” Moody served as its’ first editor. The paper provided the community with information on politics and other important issues in the City of Middletown. The branch has advocated over the years on key issues such as economic development, education, healthcare, and the criminal justice system, specifically impacting young Black men.
The following individuals have served as President of the Middlesex County NAACP Branch since its e-establishment: Willie Walton, James Moore, Roland Cockfield, Debra Hopkins, David Roane, Faith M. Jackson, Timothy Franklin, Roxanne Aaron-Selph, Rosa Browne, and Faith Jackson, ( served multiple nonconsecutive terms), and Anita Ford Saunders, APR currently president for the 2023 – 2025 term.
The Middlesex County NAACP Branch serves the following towns: