The NAACP leader continues our coverage of Columbia's top ten Black leaders
COLUMBIA, 1/19/12 (Beat Byte) --
Next to Almeta Crayton, NAACP president Mary Ratliff
is clearly Columbia's most visible and high-profile black leader. A striking figure who continues to preside over virtually every issue of community racial equity, Ratliff is both a powerful, conscientious voice -- and a lightning rod for criticism.
White critics openly wonder why she keeps protesting, and probably wish she'd just go away. Black critics label her "old school," a Civil Rights-era dinosaur on the road to extinction.
But Ratliff's supporters tell a different story. It is Mary, they remind, who keeps the flames of justice Martin Luther King, Jr. helped light 50 years ago burning brightly. It is her work organizing candidate forums
, questioning authorities
, and challenging the status quo that helps keep Columbia on the road to righteousness.
In a very real way, Columbia has Ratliff to thank for everything from the Columbia Citizens Police Review Board
to the amazing Ward Reapportionment result
that had virtually the whole town standing firm, fighting hard, and cheering victory. Ratliff's NAACP election forums are the highlight of every election season, with every candidate from every political race taking hard questions about where we've been -- and where we need to go.
To her critics and supporters, Ratliff's work has a simple message: When the struggle goes away, so will I -- but not until.