Spearman elected new N.C. NAACP PresidentBy Cash Michaels, Peacemaker Contributor / October 13, 2017
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RALEIGH – The N.C. NAACP elected a new president last weekend to touts, “I’m woke, and I ain’t scared,” letting advocates and adversaries alike know that just because Bishop Dr. William J. Barber II has finished his 12-year tenure as leader, doesn’t mean the state’s oldest civil rights organization will cease its aggressive battle for freedom, justice and equality.
“If we’re going to be a justice organization, we’re going to be a justice organization,” the new president Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, said to applause.
“We’ve got work to do, and it’s time to roll up our sleeves and do the work fighting the real adversaries and enemy.”
Rev. Spearman, who is also senior pastor of St. Phillip’s A.M.E. Zion Church in Greensboro, and president of the N.C. Council of Churches, thanked Dr. Barber for his leadership, calling the president emeritus, “My predecessor, my friend and my mentor.”
“And thank you to the N.C. NAACP for your vote, [and] your overwhelming support of me to serve as your state conference of branches president.”
Rev. Spearman, the N.C. NAACP’s Third Vice President for the past six years, hailed his opponent, Rev. Dr. Portia Rochelle, longtime president of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP.
When he gave his acceptance remarks at the Freedom Fund Banquet, Rev. Spearman embraced Rev. Rochelle onstage, and remarked with pride how they both ran clean campaigns to win. However, Spearman also took time to publicly chastise, though not by name, several N.C. NAACP members who apparently worked behind the scenes to undermine the two candidates.
“There are some of us who are in here tonight, who did their best to divide us, and cause a whole lot of hatred to permeate the N.C. NAACP,” Rev. Spearman admonished. “And I’m here to tell you all that I will not stand for that on my watch. You know who you are, and I want you to know that I know who you are too.
The hundreds in attendance at the banquet wildly applauded.
Prior to the election, Dr. Spearman vowed that he will continue down the path Bishop Barber set in terms of challenging the state legislature over what he sees are repressive policies hurting the poor and communities of color.
Also honored Saturday evening was the Greensboro NAACP Chapter, led by Branch Pres. Rev. Dr. Cardes Brown.
Other 74th Annual N.C. NAACP Convention highlights include an appearance by veteran civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson, keynote remarks by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), whose parents hail from Hendersonville, N.C., Freedom Fund Banquet remarks from national radio /television personality Roland Martin, and a poignant final “State of the State of Civil Rights address by outgoing president Bishop Dr. William J. Barber II.
Next year’s N.C. NAACP Convention will be held in Wilmington in October 2018.