The Clark County branch of the NAACP has launched an initiative that will not only help local individuals continue their education, but will also honor the legacy of one of its former members.

The Clark County branch of the NAACP has launched an initiative that will not only help local individuals continue their education, but will also honor the legacy of one of its former members.
According to Henry Wilson, president of the Clark County NAACP, the Mary Ross Memorial Scholarship will be presented to an individual this fall.
Wilson described Ross, who passed away in June 2017, as a faithful member of the local branch of the NAACP.
Ross served as religious affair person and was instrumental in motivating members of the local chapter.
“She exhibited her faith,” said Wilson, who noted that Ross displayed her faith and determination during a particular time in 2012.
“Back in 2012, we the NAACP was having problems,” Wilson said.
The Arkadelphia City Board of Directors had voted 5-2 to launch an Advertising and Promotion Tax.
“They city board had the authority to do that tax on the citizens, but I felt since it was going to be a city tax that it should be voted on (by the citizens). They didn’t want to do it,” said Wilson.
Wilson visited with his ward representative, who stated that they were going to vote in favor of the tax. As a consequence, Wilson started a petition drive in Ward 5. He presented 107 names on a petition to his director requesting her to have the issue placed on a ballot. A similar petition was circulated in Ward 4.
After the respective directors were not swayed by the petitions, Wilson consulted an attorney who advised him to circulate a petition containing the names of all registered voters.
“He checked and found out that they had to have 466 registered voters and we had 30 days to get those signatures,” said Wilson.
With the petition drawn up by the attorney, Wilson and others went throughout the city trying to get signatures of registered voters.
A few days before the deadline, Wilson and others thought they had enough signatures. They turned in what they had to the city clerk, only to be told they were 16 signatures short.
In addition, because a copy of the ordinance was not included with the petition, the names that had been collected were thrown out.
“We had to start over again. Plus, we had 10 days to do it,” Wilson said.
Despite his disappointment, Wilson noted Ross was very optimistic.
“She had worked so hard and she got us all together. She held my hand and she was saying ‘we can do it. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us’,” said Wilson.
As a result, Wilson and others went back to work to collect the names needed during a 10-day period.
Wilson noted Arkadelphia Town Hall was closed on the 10th day because it was a Saturday. In addition, the Town Hall was closed on the following Monday due to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday.
“We were working. Before the 10th day was over with, we carried the signatures down there and we had more than 760 signatures in those 10 days,” Wilson said.
According to Wilson, Ross made it a point to let the group know that anything was possible if they believed.
“She preached that and that is what got us through that. In 10 days we got 700, while in 30 days we were short,” Wilson said.
The Mary Ross Memorial Scholarship Fund has been set up at Regions Bank.
While members of the NAACP will contribute to the scholarship fund, Wilson noted that members of the community are also invited to contribute.
“She impacted the whole community. She touched a lot of people in the community,” said Wilson.
According to Wilson, the first scholarship recipient will be a parishioner of the Tate Temple Church of God in Christ where Ross was an active member.
Wilson said the recipients will alternate between members of other churches who have faithfully supported the NAACP’s annual Freedom Fund Banquet. These churches are St. Paul A.M.E., Greater Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Mount Olive Baptist Church, West End Presbyterian Church, Gennesaret Baptist Church, Manchester Church of God in Christ and Davis Memorial Church of God in Christ.