RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gerald Givens is retired technically.

However, he’s actually in his third career.

Since 2018, Givens has served as the president of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP.

“A lot of people don’t know that the NAACP as an organization grew very large during the civil rights movement because of those veterans who came back from World War II,” Givens said.

Givens is a veteran himself.

He was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, and he said he didn’t have to search far for influences.

His great-grandfather served in the Army in World War II, while his grandfather served in the Air Force during the Korean War.

His father, Gerald Givens Sr., was also a Marine in the Vietnam War.

“I’ll never forget sitting on the front porch reading my Dr. Seuss books and my mother came out and said, ‘you can be anything’,” Givens said.

After graduating from Lincoln University, Givens decided to enlist in the Air Force.

“Four years turned into 20 years,” he said smiling.

Givens had assignments in Florida, England, South Dakota and Texas. He retired after 20 years as a protocol officer in the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency.

Shortly after, Givens started his second career as a project manager at St. Peter-St. Joseph’s Children’s Home in San Antonio, Texas, before eventually moving to Raleigh.

“The incident that happened with Trayvon Martin flipped a switch on,” Givens said.

Inspired to work with the NAACP while he was in Texas, he said it was a no-brainer to start working with the Raleigh-Apex chapter.

“So, it was a natural thing for a veteran like me to follow in Medgar Evers steps. Roscoe Brown’s steps to get involved in civil rights,” Givens said.