Civil rights activist to speak at banquet

October 8, 2018

HUNTINGTON — A West Virginia native who once held the position of being the youngest NAACP branch president in the nation will be the keynote speaker at the annual Freedom Fund Banquet hosted by the Huntington-Cabell Branch of the NAACP on Saturday, Oct. 13.

James E. Griffin, a West Virginia native, was 18 years old when he served as president of the Harrison County NAACP, a position he would hold for 15 years. He also pursued other civil rights initiatives, including initiating and participation in the development of the Human Rights Commission in Clarksburg, North Central Community Action and and Neighborhood Youth Core — serving on each of their original boards of directors, according to a news release from the local NAACP branch.

The Freedom Fund Banquet, the Huntington-Cabell branch’s biggest fundraiser of the year, will be in Room BE-5 of the Marshall University Memorial Student Center. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., and the dinner and program will begin at 6 p.m. Single tickets are a contribution of $30, and a table for eight is $300.

In addition to his work with the NAACP and other rights organizations, Griffin was instrumental in receiving the initial funding to open the Opportunities Industrialization Center in Fairmont. That organization assists minorities and economically disadvantaged people to complete their educations and find employment.

His efforts have been recognized in several ways, according to the NAACP. In 2007, he was selected Citizen of the Year in Harrison County. In 2008, he and Tony Brown, host of the PBS television program “Tony Brown’s Journal,” were honored by the West Virginia governor for their contributions to the civil rights movement in West Virginia.

He also has served as chairman of the boards of directors of Pierpont Community and Technical College and Fairmont State College.

In 2006, Griffin retired from the UCAR Corporation, formerly Union Carbide, after working for the organization for 40 years. In 1972, he was the first African American promoted to management by the company, and he worked to promote diversity in the corporation.

He and his wife, Joyce, reside in Bridgeport.

For more information about the Freedom Fund banquet, call 304-529-4692.

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