Columbus NAACP President Tonza Thomas is running to be the civil rights organization’s state president.
Thomas made the announcement Thursday during an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer regarding her selection for an award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She will receive the award July 26 at the NAACP’s national convention in Baltimore, Md.
This is the second time that Thomas will receive the Thalheimer Award in recognition of branch activities and coverage by local media. She first received it 2015, at the beginning of her tenure as local president.
“It was my first administration, and there was a lot being said about the award because it was our first one,” she said. “Some of our members of the NAACP felt that because the work was done in a previous administration, they didn’t think it was rightfully an award that should bear my name. ... And so, this time, they can’t take the victory that we had from me.”
Thomas, who currently serves as the Georgia NAACP’s state secretary, said the state conference will hold elections Oct. 7 at its state convention in Augusta, Ga. She said she’s running to reinvigorate youth, who she believes are the “lifeblood” of the organization.
“My plans, as state president, I want to make sure that our youth and young adults can stand on their own,” she said. “I want them to come in the door with the talent and with the resources so that they can continue to push the NAACP.”
In July of 2016, Thomas was arrested with activist Marquese “Skinny” Averett for unlawful assembly and blocking traffic while protesting against police-related shootings of black men across the country.
That same year, the state conference held a quarterly meeting at Columbus State University focusing on criminal justice reform. It was co-hosted by members of the CSU NAACP youth and college chapter, who are now excited about the award, Thomas said.
“In addition to that, our youth council, along with our branch, decided to go into every single high school in Muscogee County to do a voter registration drive last year, and we were able to accomplish that,” she said. “... From our youth council, to our youth and college chapter, to our adult chapter, everybody should be excited about winning this award.”