Fairfax County NAACP Wins Coveted Thalheimer Award
Kofi Annan, President of the Fairfax County (VA) NAACP, announced today on Facebook that the local Fairfax branch that he leads has won the national association’s highest honor for a local operation, the Thalheimer Award. Established in 1944, the award recognizes “outstanding achievements” by local branches in “the implementation of the Association’s strategic priorities and goals.” These include “enhancing advocacy, civic engagement, economic and political empowerment, criminal justice, and educational equity.”
“Fairfax County is the home of the best branch in the NAACP branch in the nation,” Annan posted. “We’ve always felt that way … but today it became official!”
In its application for the award, the branch cited a variety of activities and initiatives, including the successful two-year “Change the Name” campaign that sought to convince the Fairfax County School Board that having the most diverse high school in the County named after a Confederate general was a detriment to learning and an insult to students and residents alike. In July 2017, the school board voted that the name of J.E.B. Stuart had to go and later in the year coalesced around the name Justice High School. The school is being revamped this summer and will officially open with its new moniker next month.
In addition, the branch’s outstanding civic engagement was cited. During 2017-2018 eligibility period, the branch held powerful forums on immigration, discriminatory hiring practices in Fairfax County Public Schools, criminal justice reform initiatives, the School to Prison pipeline issue, and a candidate forum for state elections that included (by Skype) candidate (now governor) Ralph Northam.
The application also cited the branch’s deep involvement with local government in advising public officials on such issues as Police Body-Worn Cameras, School Resource Officer policy in schools, and the recently established Police Civilian Review Panel.
Annan praised his Executive Committee—all volunteers—for their outstanding work in “achieving change and raising awareness.” He noted: “The last year and a half was amazing, and we’re just getting started. We look forward to building on the efforts and the relationships forged (during that time) and to press even harder for change in the months and years ahead.”
The award is especially welcome this year, as 2018 marks the 100 th year anniversary of the NAACP in Fairfax County. The award will be presented next week at the NAACP’s Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas.