Evans, long-time president of the DeKalb County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, recently turned 80 and reflected on his decades of community service.
He said the basic premise of his 40-something years of work with the NAACP has been to try to make situations easier for community members who have experienced trouble navigating government systems or facing challenging social and economic issues. He has helped residents find jobs and escape foreclosure. He has helped the homeless and the hungry find shelter and food. He has also lobbied to local elected officials on behalf of concerned citizens when the government failed to meet their needs or fulfill services promised.
“Anytime we find a situation where we can help, we get involved,” Evans explained. “Each case is different.”
Last year, he advocated on behalf of residents concerned about the proposed T-SPLOST.
“People in this area did not want the T-SPLOST tax, and we worked to kill it,” Evans said. “There were two reasons most folks didn’t vote for it. They didn’t want any more taxes, and they didn’t trust the government to do what was intended in the first place.”
Evans said his experience as a DeKalb County commissioner in the mid-1980s just furthered his mission to do what he could do to “try to make the government function properly.” The leadership roles he has served has given him the opportunities to help others, he said. Evans founded the civil rights organization Operation LEAD in 2005 as another platform to end discrimination and help ensure political, educational, social and economic equality for all.
“In the black community … we don’t get any breaks in this system, regardless of whether it’s 2013 or not,” he said.
On the national level, he has helped elect presidential candidates with whose platforms he favored by assisting with their campaigns.
“I supported Jimmy Carter,” Evans said. “[I] worked for him during his run for presidency. I worked for President Obama [during his first election].”
Evans said fighting to make life better for others feels good, though that is not the reason to get involved in this line of work.
“So many people who profess to be going into community service, they’re not going in it for the right reasons,” he said.
He explained many go in it for themselves when future community leaders ought to be focused just on a commitment to human service.