After speaking at a Jubilee Day event about the need for more civic participation, the Rev. Cheryl Jones Goliday asked people who would commit to making a difference in their community to raise their hands.
"Wake up, everybody," she said. "We cannot continue to be complacent."
Many of the about 80 people in the pews at Phillips Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church on Sunday put their hands in the air.
Jubilee Day commemorates the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863. The Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP holds an observance every year at a different venue to remember the past and talk about challenges that society still faces.
After a recitations of the Emancipation Proclamation and proclamations declaring Sunday Jubilee Day in the city and county by Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield and Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, Goliday spoke passionately on the theme, "still in crisis."
Goliday, pastor of Phillips Temple CME, referenced a passage from the Book of Romans that discussed the need to awake from a sleep.
When people are metaphorically asleep, she said, they fail to recognize opportunities as well as dangers. She said that society still faces issues such as the deterioration of moral values, child molestation, homelessness and violence.
The pastor also chided voter apathy. While it has been almost 50 years since many blacks in the South couldn't vote, she said, there still is poor voter participation.
After Goliday's speech, Chattanooga civil rights leader James Mapp made an appeal to join the NAACP, and branch president Valoria Armstrong encouraged the attendees not just to donate money to the organization but also to become active members.
Armstrong said there is too much work to be done for people not to get involved in the NAACP or other organizations.
"Twenty-twelve is upon us and we need to have an impact," she said.