The New York State Conference of NAACP Branches, led by the state President Hazel N. Dukes, held its annual meeting, along with a mandatory training session for branches and youth and college chapters members, Saturday, Jan. 10, one of the coldest days thus far this year. Despite the frigid temperatures, nearly 400 NAACP members from across the state, including nearly 75 youth and college members, met at 10 a.m. at the Adam Clayton Powell Harlem State Office Building.

National President of the NAACP Cornell Brooks addressed the attendees in a fiery speech on what must be done to counter the assault on our civil rights in 2015. He recounted the hate-filled, verbal and physical threats he and the NAACP marchers endured during the 100-mile march from Ferguson to the capitol of Missouri to seek justice and police accountability. He also spoke on the recent bombing of a NAACP branch in the state of Colorado and the NAACP’s commitment to stop these atrocities against African-Americans.

Dukes gave the attendees their charge to increase the activities, visibility and local membership of every NAACP unit across the state. Meanwhile, Rep. Charles Rangel made a surprise visit to the meeting, since his local office is located in the State Office Building. His brief but fiery remarks on what must be addressed in every community were powerful.