Jerry Carter, President, Tuscaloosa NAACP
One of the greatest local organizations to return to life in the past five years is the Tuscaloosa branch of the NAACP. Led by Jerry Carter, the Tuscaloosa NAACP has pushed against the grain to emphasize the relevance and need for continued action with respect to civil rights. In 2012, Jerry Carter urged Tuscaloosans to revive the NAACP locally. I was fortunate enough to attend one of the first meetings and witness Carter's passion firsthand.
Jerry Carter has been a powerful yet diplomatic leader for the nascent local branch. His concerns range from the culture of violence to the power of the school-to-prison pipeline.
A "boy toy"?
In February 2015, Carter asked the City Council to regulate air guns to prevent mistaken-identity shootings of children.
"My primary concern is the fact that people have already died because the (air-powered) weapons look so much like real weapons," Jerry Carter told the council's Public Safety Committee this week.
Carter said he decided to approach the City Council after recently seeing a group of young boys holding what appeared to be a firearm. He realized it wasn't a real gun after they used it to shoot at a streetlight.
This, he said, prompted him to consider what might happen if they were approached by a Tuscaloosa police officer. "It puts young children at risk," Carter said, "but it also creates a problem with law enforcement. I just don't want to see someone's child get hurt or killed."
The committee has agreed to explore the idea of regulating air guns, which municipal ordinance already prohibits from being fired within the city limits.
It is the small details of life in a civil society which animate Carter. Often, in our heavily-armed culture, it is the small detail-- a fragment, a split-second reaction-- that means the difference between life and death. In April 2015, Carter urged local leaders to ban cell phone use in schools after his granddaughter was filmed in the restroom. In July 2015, Carter suggested the creation of a Citizen's Advisory Board on police violence to serve as liaison between city and community. This would act as a neutral ground for citizens and law enforcement in addition to adding greater transparency to the government process.