The YJCW Branch of the NAACP was organized in 1942, in Yorktown, Virginia. Charles E. Brown, Frank E. Segar, S. Cheesman, McKinley Whiting and J.R. Armstead, of Williamsburg; Henry Wright of James City County; Carrie Morton, George Billups and R.F. Edney of Yorktown, met and became Charter members. This group of early freedom fighters organized themselves and solicited memberships through the local churches, under the leadership of Charles Brown, the first Branch President.
The new organization met continuously throughout the World War II years, and in 1959 elected R.F. Edney (Yorktown) as Branch President. In 1960, the Branch organized a youth supervisory committee headed by Rev. David Collins, Ezekiel Lee, and Ben Spraggin. Their charge was to work with the youth in the three Branch communities (James City, York, Williamsburg) to begin a process of developing leadership skills in our young people. Also during that time the Branch increased church memberships, added the Highland Park Community to the membership role, and developed the Freedom Drive and Queen’s Rally as annual events.
In 1961, Rev. J.B. Tabb was elected Branch President, Beulah Wallace was elected chairperson of the Freedom Fund Committee, and the branch became the largest contributor to the Virginia NAACP State Conference for a number of years. During the 1960’s and 1970’s, while the country experienced many changes in race relations, the YJCW Branch fought on the local level for civil and voter rights. Local businesses and retailers began to integrate their staffs, and the Branch encouraged and helped its membership and others to apply for jobs.
In 1970, James Hicks became President of the local branch and was eventually elected President of the Virginia NAACP State Conference. Phillip Cooke was elected Branch President in 1972, and he served in that role for over twenty years. During Mr. Cooke’s tenure, Bobbye Alexander organized and became the chairperson of ACT-SO. Dedicated freedom fighters continued to build branch membership and worked fervently to address the civil rights issues of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
Succeeding Branch Presidents:
Sara L. Howard 2000*
Arthur Mallory, Jr. 2001 – 2004
Oliver S. Tabb 2005 – 2006
Clarence Wilson 2007 – 2016
Brian J. Smalls, Esq. 2017 – Present
The Branch membership has grown from twenty members to nearly five hundred.
*Fulfilled remainder of Philip Cooke’s term.
** Source of information: Irene Wallace Lee, Pearle Cooke, Oliver Tabb