NAACP activist to speak at MLK luncheon

Tom Joyce Staff Reporter

January 11, 2014

Referring to Yara Allen as a staunch advocate for social justice might be a bit of an understatement, considering the various causes for which she has fought.

Along with being a field organizer for the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), Allen, a resident of Rocky Mount, is a vocal protester of recent actions by the N.C. General Assembly. This has included being part of the HKonJ (Historic Thousand on Jones Street) movement and the Forward Together Moral Movement.

Last May, Allen was arrested along with 48 other people, whom she describes as “soldiers for justice,” during a protest at the General Assembly. She is proud to have stood up for her rights and says she would gladly do so again.

“If anybody asks you who I am, know that I’ve worn many hats and traveled many miles,” Allen said in a statement. “But the essence of who I am can be summed up in this phrase: I am a soldier in the struggle for justice and I shall not be moved.”

To Speak Here

The longtime activist has been tapped as the keynote speaker for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Luncheon in Mount Airy on Jan. 20. The event, now in its 24th year, will be held in the J.J. Jones Alumni Auditorium on Jones School Road, beginning at 11 a.m. About 170 people attended the 2012 gathering.

Members of Surry County Chapter 5459 of the NAACP who organize the Martin Luther King Day luncheons always strive to present dynamic, relevant speakers at those events, and believe this year is no exception.

Anise Hickman, one of the organizers, said local NAACP President Faye Carter spearheaded the selection of Yara Allen as guest speaker. “She knows her (Allen) and I think she’s heard her speak,” Hickman said of Carter.

Allen has worked closely with Dr. William Barber, the state NAACP president, Hickman said of an individual who has become well-known for his leadership role in the Moral Monday protests against the state Legislature.

Carter, the Surry chapter president, stays in regular contact with Barber, and that helps in the search for memorable speakers at the MLK luncheons.

“She networks a lot with Dr. Barber,” Hickman added of his role in lining up those individuals. “That’s how we find out about them throughout North Carolina.”

Allen describes herself as both an NAACP field activist in Durham, serving 21 counties in eastern North Carolina, as well as a cultural artist, visual and musical artist, poet and mother.

She has adopted the role of a “theo-musicologist” with the social justice movement. In that vein, Allen has given lectures at Princeton University, Union Theological Seminary in New York and Appalachian State University on “The Importance of Music in a Movement.”

Ticket Details

The theme of the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Luncheon on Jan. 20 is “A Renewed Commitment for Justice in 2014.”

In addition to the address by Yara Allen, the event is expected to include special remarks about King’s legacy by local NAACP officials, music and other highlights.

The cost of attending the luncheon is a $15 donation.

Tickets can be obtained from Teressa Spencer at (336) 786-4162.

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