Does the National NAACP follow its own rules?By Cash Michaels, Peacemaker Senior Contributor / November 12, 2021
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In the aftermath of yet, another self-inflicted controversy, the question is being asked, “Can the NAACP follow its own rules?
Can an administrator assigned to oversee the operations of the N.C. NAACP from the national office change the conference’s election procedures to the point where it’s bi-annual elections are delayed literally two weeks after it’s annual convention, with no closing statements from the candidates to the statewide membership before voting, many of the eligible delegates prevented from voting, and then, little of the required pre-election procedures implemented, and a flawed balloting process put in place the day of the election to top it off?
And even after all of that, a public announcement of who won the state presidency, well short of the 30 days required after a challenged election to allow for proper review and sanctioning by the national office.
Believe it or not, some of this alleged calamity happened before in another state during another questionable NAACP state conference election, and in that case, many of the allegations were simply ignored.
In the North Carolina case, and as exclusively reported in the Black Press last week, questions arose after the October 23rd election of NAACP state Conference of Branches top officers. Deborah Dicks-Maxwell, currently the president of the New Hanover County Chapter, was reported elected as the new president of the N.C. NAACP, replacing two-term incumbent Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman.
A public release of Maxwell’s victory was issued at least three days after to statewide media, allowing it to be widely reported before any official challenge could be lodged.
And then on Oct. 27th – five days after the election, as required by the NAACP Manual on Branch Election Procedures – an Article IX Complaint to the National NAACP office was filed, alleging “…more than 25 eligible voting NAACP members from five (5) or more units (branches) in North Carolina who were kept from voting by mis-directions or no directions about the aborted and corrupt elections conducted on October 23, 2021.”
The complaint further alleged, “That because deadlines and procedures…were not followed by the National NAACP Administrator and those working in concert with her, dozens of loyal NAACP members were disenfranchised in this totally digitalized process. Because there were no accommodations made for our elderly members who were disenfranchised by the digital divide, generational divide, disability divide, and literacy divide, many members who have voted in every NAACP, state, county, and federal election since the 1965 Voting Rights Act were treated unfairly.”
No one has charged that either Maxwell or Rev. Spearman did anything wrong – and in fact, Maxwell, when contacted for comment about the complaint, indicated by email that “I was not privy to the information that you shared with me.” Rather, the complaint focuses on the way that the state conference elections were so allegedly mishandled that the true victor in the respective races cannot be determined from the results.
Sources indicate that the national NAACP administrator in question who was in charge of overseeing the N.C. NAACP State Conference election was identified as Gloria Jean Sweet – Love, longtime Tennessee NAACP State Conference president, and member of the national NAACP board.
Sweet-Love was put in place two years ago after the alleged sexual harassment allegations charged against former N.C. NAACP member Rev. Curtis Gatewood. Rev. Gatewood tried to run for the state presidency in 2019, but was suspended by the national office and reportedly removed from membership.
The fallout from that episode saw the national NAACP sued for $15 million and later the national president, Derrick Johnson, reportedly sued for $5 million by Gatewood’s alleged victim.
In the meantime, Sweet-Love has been overseeing the N.C. NAACP Conference, and also the Virginia Conference, and it is from there that she has faced some of the same current election accusations against her before.
According to the November 22nd, 2019 edition of the Richmond Free Press Newspaper, “At least 32 members have filed a complaint alleging violations of established NAACP election procedures and calling on the national NAACP to investigate. They want a new election to be held if the complaints are found to be credible,” reported the newspaper.
The complaint was filed by Julius D. Spain Sr., president of the Arlington Branch of the NAACP with Derrick Johnson, NAACP national president and chief executive officer, after Robert N. Barnette Jr. was elected Virginia NAACP state conference president.
Ironically, when contacted by the Free Press, Barnette “…said he was unaware that a group had filed a complaint. He noted that the elections were conducted by Gloria Sweet-Love, a member of the national board, and NAACP regional director Jonathan McKinney, and not by the [Virginia] NAACP.”
Further on in the story, it states that “…the complaint alleges that Sweet-Love interrupted candidates’ remarks to delegates to make disparaging remarks about some and supportive remarks in other cases in an effort to affect the election’s outcome….[and]…concludes that the concerns “described an unfair process, election irregularities and bias in the officials conducting the election,” most notably Sweet-Love.”
The Free Press story, which also alleged that normal NAACP election procedures has been breached, thus excluding qualified voting delegates, concluded, “The complaint calls on Mr. Johnson and the national board to hold a new election that would follow normal procedures and from which Ms. Sweet-Love would be barred from having any role.”
Robert Barnette Jr. is still president of the Virginia State NAACP.
Per the Oct. 27th N.C. NAACP complaint about Gloria Sweet-Love’s alleged mishandling of the Oct. 23rd state conference elections, it states … the Chairperson of the Committee on Membership and Units “is subject of this and other complaints,” thus making the situation “obviously unfair.”
That chairperson has been confirmed to be Gloria Sweet-Love.
The next word will be from the national NAACP office on whether it will accept or reject the North Carolina complaint.