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As Rev. Barber steps down, N.C. NAACP prepares for next leader


Carolyn Q. Coleman Carolyn Q. Coleman
RALEIGH - According to sources at the N.C. NAACP, the successor to Pres. Rev. William Barber, who has announced that he is stepping down next month after twelve years, will come from the four vice presidents currently under his wing – First Vice President Carolyn Q. Coleman; Second Vice Pres. Carolyn McDougal; Third Vice President Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman and Fourth Vice Pres. Courtney Patterson.

Coleman is a veteran civil rights activist, member of the national NAACP Board and the Guilford County Commission Board. McDougal is a human resource officer with People’s Choice Home Care, Inc. in Dunn. Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman is senior pastor of St. Phillip AME Zion Church in Greensboro and president of the N.C. Council of Churches. Courtney Patterson is retired and lives in Kinston.

The N.C. NAACP is “…strong in our legal victories; strong in our organizational structure; strong financially and strong in the clarity of agenda…,” Rev. Barber told reporters last week during a teleconference last Thursday.

A meeting to determine who will succeed Rev. Barber is reportedly scheduled for next Monday. Whoever is chosen is expected to serve out the balance of the president’s term until the October state convention and then run for election.

Among the candidates expected to throw his hat back into the ring in October, sources say, is the former state NAACP leader who lost his post to Rev. Barber in 2005 – Melvin “Skip” Alston of Greensboro.

Carolyn McDougal Carolyn McDougal
Alston, who was also a Greensboro businessman and a Guilford County Commissioner, had served as N.C. NAACP president from 1996 until he was ousted by Barber. That campaign was filled with tension and accusations of irregularities.

Alston’s tenure was controversial at the time, and just the mere mention of the possibility that he may run again has some rank-and-file members of the state conference shaking their heads, saying that it was Rev. Barber’s strong, principled and bold leadership that made the North Carolina chapter one of the best in the nation.

It is clear that whoever does succeed Rev. Barber in June, they already know they have a hard act to follow.

There were tears, but they were tears of joy, and of pride, as at least one hundred supporters, civic and religious leaders, and N.C. NAACP members came together Monday at Davie Presbyterian Church in Raleigh to say “goodbye” to the man who has led them since 2005, challenging racism, sexism, voter suppression and more.

Rev. Barber listened intently as some whom he has inspired, some he’s mentored, and some he has also taken sage counsel from over the past 12 years, paid tribute to him before he formally stepped down.

Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman
“When you made your announcement that you would be stepping down as the NAACP president, one of the critics of the movement said this, he said, ‘I just wish Rev. Barber would have been a negotiator rather than an agitator,’” Rev. Nancy Petty said. “Rev. Barber, we’re sending you into the world to be an agitator.”

Barber announced late last week that he was broadening the focus of his successful moral leadership campaign to a national scope, joining with other social justice “servant leaders” to address poverty, and other social ills that have been too long ignored by government and the political parties.

“Our work is not over here in North Carolina, but as you know, extremism is at work in other states and has gained power in all three branches of our federal government, much as it did here four years ago,” Rev. Barber said. “This moment requires us to push into the national consciousness, not from the top down but from the bottom up.”

In calling for a “moral revival” for the nation, Rev. Barber, his nonprofit advocacy group “Repairers of the Breach,” and other prominent social and religious activists like Rev. James Forbes, pastor emeritus of Riverside Church in N.Y., are working towards the fiftieth anniversary of the historic Poor People’s Campaign, which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. started before he was assassinated in 1968.