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Texas' state NAACP conference will be held Thursday through Saturday in Texarkana.
This state conference is poised to focus on many issues which address election protection, voting rights, environmental protection and economic development.
Highlights of the convention will feature speeches from legendary judge and former civil rights attorney L. Clifford Davis, and Sarah Collins Rudolph, survivor of the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Ala., that killed her sister and three other girls.
"Texans are being confronted with that we have not seen for decades. Many battles that provided better access to education, health care, voting rights for low-to-moderate income Texans are being strategically and systematically challenged by well-funded interests," said Gary Bledsoe, Texas State Conference president and national board member.
"We have a parallel, but fully integrated conference for our Youth and College Division. Texas students have been recognized for several consecutive years at the National Convention as the most effective youths in the country. We are committed to creating genuine learning and training opportunities for the next generation of NAACP leadership. The mission of the NAACP is as clear today as it has ever been. We will not back away from our historic mission."
Registration for the conference is $90.
Most events will be at the Hilton Garden Inn and Texarkana Convention Center. On Thursday, a welcome reception will honor the life of Antonio Maceo Smith, a Texarkana and NAACP legend. On Friday, a panel of voting rights experts will explain the new changes to the Voter ID law as well as rights at the polling locations. Jacqueline Patterson, NAACP director of environmental and climate justice program, will lead a workshop on environmental protection and why it's a civil rights issue.
The three-day event includes:
Thursday
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free flu shots administered at the Truman Arnold Student Center. The shots are free for Texarkana College and Texas A&M University-Texarkana students as well as the public. This is made possible through the state NAACP and Walgreen's.
7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Welcome reception at Texarkana Convention Center honoring Antonio Maceo Smith. Born in 1903, he attended segregated schools in Texarkana, Texas. He earned a degree from Frisk University in 1924 and a master's of business administration degree at New York University in 1928. He owned a real estate company in Texarkana, was the first executive secretary of the Dallas Negro Chamber of Commerce and a lifelong activist in the NAACP. He served on the NAACP Board of Directors from 1953-1957 and contributed to many civil rights organizations as well as civil rights activists.

Friday
11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Senior Community Health Fair at Robison Terrace, 1010 Dan Haskins Way. Made possible by the state NAACP convention and the Housing Authority of Texarkana, Texas, the event offers free medical and legal information, Medicare information, blood pressure checks, and games and prizes.

Saturday
2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Community health fair for youths and adults at Pecan Ridge, 2210 W. 15th St. The event offers free medical and legal information, Medicare information, blood pressure checks and games and prizes.
7:30 p.m. Banquet at convention center. Tickets are $60. Speaker is Sarah Collins Rudolph, who was injured in the bombing that killed her sister, Addie Mae Collins.
The NAACP remains committed to working civil rights and social justice for all. Several Texans and other prominent figures who have worked
 to achieve social equity in our state and nation will be honored. They include:
 Ericka Cain, award-winning Texas NAACP Youth and College advisor as Texas NAACP Hero. She mentors and teaches youths the value of their voice and how they make important changes to our state and country;
 Dr. Richard Watkins, Texas NAACP Criminal Justice Chair, as 2016 Texas Hero. He has worked many years fighting injustices that African Americans have faced in the criminal justice system;
 Avelina Holmes, Houston NAACP Youth Advisor, as Texas NAACP Hero for 2016 for her dedication to youth.s
Everyone is invited to attend and participate in the Texas state NAACP convention. For more information, call Robert Jones at 903-278-7248 or 903-838-2113.

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