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January 1, 2013

Local NAACP president speaks at CWC Friday

The president of the Casper chapter of the NAACP talks about the organization’s role in the Equality State at Central Wyoming College Friday, Feb. 8.

James “Jimmy” Simmons, Jr., speaks at 12:30 p.m. in room 125 of the Intertribal Education and Community Center. The program, open to the public free of charge, is sponsored by the Western American Studies program, the CWC Diversity Committee and the CWC Anthropology Club.

Simmons was a successful drilling company owner and oil field consultant in Wyoming despite the bigotry he encountered in the state he moved to in 1971.

He was an oil field roughneck in first job in Wyoming, ironically in the town of Linch. While later he became a drilling company owner, he faced racism off the rig. He failed in a run for the state house, and chose to become involved in civil rights.

In his role with the NAACP, Simmons has investigated prejudice against not only black citizens, but also Native Americans and gay residents. Several years ago the Eastern Shoshone Tribe joined the NAACP.

Western American Studies professor Todd Guenther, who was interviewed with Simmons on Wyoming PBS’s “Wyoming Chronicles,” show entitled “Unequal in the Equality State,” said the NAACP was formed in 1909, during the years that Wyoming had the highest lynch rate of young black men of any state in the nation.

“This is a pertinent current issue in Fremont County,” Guenther said.