George Six is a progressive-minded, retired Episcopal priest who has lived across the country and always had a passion for civil rights. He marched on the streets of Washington, D.C., in the 1960s for voting rights, even missing an exam in seminary to participate. “We were threatened with a failing grade until the professor acknowledged that we were making church history,” says Six. In the past two years he has helped resurrect the Henderson County chapter of the NAACP, and currently serves as the chapter’s executive director. He was one of the speakers at last year’s Moral Mondays rally that brought almost 10,000 people to downtown Asheville. Six, who retired to the area in 1999, also serves on the steering committee of the Mountain People’s Assembly.
What are your responsibilities as the Henderson County NAACP chapter executive director?
The [position] is best described as an elected officer working with the various chapter committees as a representative of the Board.
It isn’t common for a white man to serve in a high position in NAACP chapters. But you say it hasn’t been an issue…
It took me a while to break through. I feel accepted [now] and I don’t feel like I have trouble getting listened to. This happened almost by accident for me. People say, “But you ran for office” —but I thought I might just be [elected to] the board. It’s been very amazing; I’ve been very well received.
Of the skills you used as an Episcopal priest, which ones are you able to use now in your new role?
It really is not a new role. Within the church I have been heavily involved with issues that concern the Episcopal Church: civil rights, ordination of women, LGBT issues, abortion, war and peace. My church is in the world. True, it is an outgrowth of a community of faith, but it does not reside within the walls of a building.
What did you know about the NAACP before you began to work with the organization?
I really didn’t know much about the NAACP at that time. I’d been near them forever but I didn’t know how things functioned.
What is your hope for the Henderson County chapter of the NAACP?
I think we’re just now finding out what we can do.
How can the chapter make a difference in the lives of people in Henderson County?
It’s currently making a difference. We’re working directly with law enforcement to implement better relations within the community. We’re representing and caring for the incarcerated and conducting direct communications with law-enforcement officials. The chapter is deeply concerned for our public schools. It’s making its witness known by working with other civic groups concerned for voter-registration issues and attempts to limit and reduce voter turnout.
Throughout your life you’ve had a progressive mindset — what led you to that way of thinking?
My forbears in this country came before the Revolutionary War. They were Quakers, and their history reflects their commitment to social justice. In addition, my faith mandates my concern for all of God’s creation.
To keep up with news of the Henderson County NAACP or to contact George Six, call 828-692-7180 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org