February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate the achievements and recognize the central role of African American people throughout U.S. history.

Here at Kitsap Credit Union, we believe in the power of belonging, and we’re taking this time to honor the resilience of Black Americans and recognize their contributions to our community and the nation.

The Bremerton Branch of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), a Kitsap Credit Union business member, serves Kitsap, Jefferson, and Mason Counties by advocating for people of color in our community and providing resources to better their lives.

We asked Robert Harris, President of the Bremerton NAACP, to share how the NAACP assists Black Americans in our community and what Black History Month means to him and his organization.

Get to Know NAACP Unit 1134 Bremerton

The NAACP, the nation’s oldest Civil Rights Organization, has fought for civil rights since 1909. The mission of the NAACP is to achieve equity, political rights, and social inclusion by advancing policies and practices that expand human and civil rights, eliminate discrimination, and accelerate the well-being, education, and economic security of black people and all persons of color. The NAACP Unit 1134 of Bremerton leads this fight for the Black community and all persons of color in our community.

“I love being a member of this civil rights organization, which was not only the catalyst to my success in this country but also allows me to give back to the community,” said Harris.

The NAACP supports our local community in various ways, such as providing community resource fairs, voter education, community law enforcement engagement, addressing Civil Rights complaints, and empowering youth through their Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technology, and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO).

The work of the NAACP not only helps improve access to resources for people of color but also provides opportunities and a sense of connection with others.

“We (the local NAACP) choose to conduct our primary business activities with Kitsap Credit Union because they are a reputable organization that loves its community members; this aligns with our values,” said Harris. “Kitsap Credit Union has been and continues to be a support structure for the entire community. We appreciate the continued and unwavering support of our local NAACP Unit 1134 Branch, which helps to ensure that we can continue to provide essential services to our community.”

What does Black History Month mean to the Bremerton NAACP?

When asked what Black History Month means to the Bremerton NAACP, Harris answered, Black History is American History. “This nation was built on the blood, sweat, and tears of our enslaved ancestors. Black History Month is important and essential to understanding Black Americans’ true plight and contributions to this nation,” said Harris.

Harris expressed his frustrations on the unfortunate attempts across the country to eradicate the contributions of Black Americans to our society and this nation’s growth. “As a Civil Rights organization, we cannot allow this to happen,” said Harris.

Harris continues to share that Black Labor has been and continues to be foundational to the growth of America. In society, Black American influence is found in the arts, medicine, education, science, music, cultural inventions, entrepreneurship, civil rights, and noble laureates.

“Even though February is nationally recognized as Black History Month, Black History should be celebrated and shared 365 days a year,” says Harris. “Our contributions and sacrifices are too important.”

Local Pioneers

In addition to honoring Black Americans’ contributions to the nation, we are proud to recognize local community trailblazers who have led the way in Kitsap County’s history. We celebrate such pioneers as Al and Hazel Colvin, who helped found the NAACP Bremerton Branch; Al Colvin and Marty Crutcher, the first Black Men on the Bremerton City Council; Ted Spearman, the first Black Man to be a Kitsap Superior Court Judge; Tracy S Flood, the first Black Woman on the Bremerton Municipal Court Judge; Diane Robinson, the first Black Woman on the Bremerton City Council; and Brenda Jones the first Black Woman to become Mayor of Bainbridge Island.

Wondering How You Can Get Involved?

When asked how one can support his organization, Harris said, ”To continue this pursuit of a seat at the table, we need the support of membership, donations, and volunteerism. These are essential to allowing the NAACP to continue working for the people of color in our community.”

NAACP membership is open to all who support the mission of the NAACP, irrespective of race, religion, political affiliation, or ideology.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr stated, “Unity is one of the most powerful forces on earth. We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Harris couldn’t agree more. “As I truly believe in unity to make real change, it is one of my goals as President of NAACP Unit 1134 to unify our community to better the lives of everyone in Kitsap, Mason, and Jefferson counties,” proclaimed Harris. “We are stronger together!”