Raymond Willis Sr. of North began going to Mathews Branch NAACP meetings back in the mid-1970s, primarily to give his neighbor and relative Beatrice L. Bobo a ride.
“That’s how I got involved,” said Willis. But something else must have kept him coming back, as Willis stepped down last week after serving 36 years as its president.
“We always called her ‘Cousin B,’” Willis said of Bobo, who had been his predecessor as president of the local civil rights group. Willis strove to continue her legacy in the organization, and now it is Edith Turner’s turn to do the same.
Bobo saw Mathews through perhaps its most difficult time in terms of race relations in 1980, following the shooting death of Michael Johnson, a young Black man, at the hands of a Mathews deputy. Her calm presence, heading off a potentially violent crowd and organizing a peaceful march, helped to defuse an extremely tense situation.
Willis became Mathews NAACP president four years later, and while he has not faced...
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