The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) celebrated its 108th birthday this week, founded on February 12th, 1909. The Reno-Sparks branch has been fighting for civil rights since 1945. 

It wasn't until the 1970's that legal discrimination officially ended in the Silver State, with the passing of an open housing law. Patricia Gallimore, President of the Reno-Sparks NAACP says there is still work to be done, "For us to be doing the same thing that we were doing in the 20th century makes no sense."

Gallimore has lived in the area for almost 30 years and has seen some growth, but says some problems remain. "There are more people of color and lack of jobs and things for them to do in this community."

Gallimore also says it's a reminder their work is far from over. "The air of the nation, even the air of this city is on fire right now." She notes several local incidents like the claims of racial bullying in Yerington, the incident with Wooster High School's former girls' volleyball and boys' baseball coach, and swastikas on UNR's campus. 

However, Gallimore also recognizes the community's desire to help, including the original founders of what later grew to be the NAACP.  She says, "It was white individuals who started this, they were concerned about what was happening to people of color during the time--the lynchings."

Reno-Sparks NAACP has grown from 200 to 250 members in recent years, despite the small African-American population in the area. Members not only include African-Americans, but Caucasians, Latinos and others, too. Gallimore, who encourages people of all backgrounds to look into joining the organization says, "More folks that are not people of color, they want to get involved, be a part of the civil rights."

The organization, which meets monthly, often partners up with law enforcement officials to build community trust. In fact, Gallimore says both Reno and Sparks' police chiefs are active members, "It's all about trust and transparency and they want to be a part of that as well."

The group's youth council recently formed a scholarship committee for young members pursuing higher education.

Gallimore is hopeful that education and simply getting to know one another as people, can help society move forward, "We've come a very long way in a short time, but we still have a long way to go."

To celebrate Black History Month, the NAACP is hosting an event forum called 'African-Americans in Times of War,' on February 22nd at the Evelyn Mount Community Center. To learn more, click here.