MILTON — The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, known as the NAACP, may have instant name recognition to locals — but the Santa Rosa County chapter may not. New NAACP Santa Rosa County Unit 5094 President Danny Scott is out to change that with a mission of building inclusive membership.
A Navy and Marine Corps veteran, Scott lives in the county for the second time now. A war injury medically retired Scott and he moved here in January of 1998 and left in 2004. He’s been back since 2016.
Scott joined the Navy in 1984 as a corpsman — an enlisted medical assistant — and, as Scott put it, he “did everything,” from dispensing medication and putting in IVs, to suturing.
An award for rehabilitating a comatose patient led to a promotion, which eventually led to jobs driving higher and higher ranking officials — on up to Secretary of the Navy and President George H.W. Bush.
Scott joined the Marine Corps after that tour and got back to the work he loved, practicing field medicine, but exposure to chemicals in a bunker explosion would change his life altogether. His symptoms didn’t show until 1996, and after a tour of hospitals and doctors, a Bethesda neural surgeon found a mass and a compressed spinal cord. He was medically discharged from the Navy in 1998.
“Because of the medicine, (I’ve got) diabetes,” Scott said. “I’ve been on steroids 20-plus years. That eats at your heart. I’m still partially paralyzed from the waist down. My legs atrophied.”
Despite these problems, the FBI recruited Scott for its human resources department and he worked for the bureau from 2012 to 2014. He was the equal employment opportunity coordinator for the state of Arizona, handling the state’s EEO issues, with 12 staff personnel over 1,100-plus individuals, he said.
“It was one of the greatest agencies I had the opportunity to even dream of working for,” he added. “Once FBI, always FBI.”
In his personal life, Scott said he and his wife, Shelia, have supported and volunteered with multiple nonprofit organizations including the Red Cross, military nonprofits, the Special Olympics and, of course, the NAACP.
The couple moved back to Milton in July of 2016, Scott said, and by September was connecting with the Santa Rosa County NAACP Chapter 5094. At that time, Scott said the organization was active, but not as active as it should have been.
“When we came back, it’s what my wife and I really wanted to do,” Scott said. “I’m a diversity champion. It’s what I did in the military, what I did for the FBI. That is who I am. I love people.”
As the chapter’s president, Scott’s message is one of inclusion.
“Right now we’re in the process of rebuilding, rebranding,” Scott said. “We’re totally inclusive. That’s where we are right now. I say ‘rebuilding’ because we have to grow our membership.”
To be specific, Scott said he’s trying to bring the chapter to where other nonprofits are now, such as setting up a Facebook page and website.
As far as growing membership, Scott said he and his wife have already brought in 12 new members in the last two and a half months. While African Americans the Scotts have approached have been more open to the NAACP, Scott said others, like Caucasians and Asians, have been reticent.
“(They say) ‘That’s a black organization,’” Scott said. “I have to educate them. We’re an organization of diversity. I carry applications with me all the time.”
Scott said he points out to potential members the NAACP charter expressly says it’s open to all races.
Ruth Campbell has been with the chapter approximately 18 years and welcomed Scott's leadership.
“He has ideas and experience in many areas,” she said. “We’re very happy to be working with him. We want to be very visible in the community, more so than we have been.”
As part of Scott’s approach — from seeking members and growing an internet presence — he’s making connections with other entities. The first time Scott was in Milton, he made connections as a Santa Rosa County Chamber of Commerce member and now he’s reaching out to area churches as well as government entities from the county commission to Century in Escambia County.
His plans also to have a meeting with the mayor of Gulf Breeze as well as the mayor of Jay.
“It’s not about the little ‘u’ and the little ‘s,’” he said, “but the big ‘U’ and the big ‘S,’ the big US — the big picture.”
The chapter has a brand new website. Visit https://naacp5094.com for more information.