A Family Tradition

John Gaskin III

We're celebrating membership week for the NAACP by sharing stories of what membership means from our members. Yesterday we sent out this email:

The year was 1963, and my grandmother was living in Memphis. I don't have to tell you what that would have meant for a black woman.

Pregnant with my aunt, she and my mother, who was six years old, were driving alone when they stopped at a gas station, where she asked to use the restroom.

The response: "We don't have no restrooms for no ..." (He used a terrible racial slur — you know the one.)

This painful story has stayed with me ever since I first heard it as a child. Not because of the anger and humiliation my grandmother must have felt at the time, but because it never stopped her from working for change. Her resilience has inspired me to carry on her fight for civil rights and human rights as a member of the NAACP.

Every day I'm proud of being part of this 75-year family tradition.

Membership has had a tremendous impact on my life and I know it has on yours as well. Let's continue our work together -- renew or upgrade your membership today.

That wasn't the only story of hate my grandmother endured. But she persevered. She continued a family legacy of NAACP membership and advocacy that stretches back to my great grandparents, lifetime members themselves.

And now I get to carry that same banner. That's what membership means to me. It's continuing the fight against intolerance, just like my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents did before me.

It's standing side by side with people of all ages and all colors at the Bury the N word rally in Detroit in 2007, 44 years after my grandmother couldn't even stop to use a bathroom because of racial hatred. It's looking into my grandmother's eyes and seeing how proud she is of me for never giving up and never being satisfied until intolerance and inequality are things we'll read about in history books, not newspapers.

We can make that happen, but only if we work together. Renew or upgrade your membership, and tell us what your NAACP membership means to you:

Thank you.