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Will the N.C. NAACP elect a new president this weekend?


With the theme of “Fighting Forward,” the NAACP North Carolina State Conference will hold its 80th Annual State Convention today - September 28th through Saturday, September 30th at the Wilmington Convention Center in Wilmington, featuring such notables as Governor Roy Cooper, NAACP Pres./CEO Derrick Johnson and newly appointed N.C. Associate Supreme Court Justice Allison Riggs.

Other convention notables include National NAACP Board of Directors Chairman Leon W. Russell, retired state Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice and 2024 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Morgan, and state Attorney General and 2024 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Stein.

The highlight of this year’s convention is scheduled to be the election of NAACP N.C. Executive Committee officers, with the spotlight on the top spot of president, currently occupied by Deborah Dicks-Maxwell of Wilmington (New Hanover County).

That conference vote is scheduled to take place by midday Saturday after the president’s address to conferees.

Sources tell the Black Press that Maxwell will be challenged for reelection by Pasquotank County NAACP President Keith Rivers, and the controversial electronic Election Buddy balloting system will be employed to determine the winner.

Maxwell is the first woman to become president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP. She has served since Oct. 2021. She is also a former president of the New Hanover County NAACP. She won the position by defeating then NAACP N.C. President Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman in a controversial contest using the Election Buddy system. Dr. Spearman, and more than 25 other NAACP N.C. members, filed a complaint about the 2021 election process, but were denied. Many of those members have since left the civil rights organization.

Spearman later filed suit against Maxwell, National Pres./CEO Derrick Johnson, National Board of Directors Chairman Leon W. Russell, and several others in June 2022, just prior to his untimely death, ruled a suicide.

During the course of Maxwell’s tenure early on, there were allegations against her for a lack of leadership. Pasquotank County President Keith Rivers was one of those who openly questioned her leadership, at one time accusing her in writing of “lies and half truths.” Rivers had been widely expected to challenge Maxwell’s bid for re-election.

Last March, Pres. Maxwell lost at least two Executive Committee officers to suspension, including long time veteran Conference Secretary Sylvia Barnes, and Conference Treasurer Gerald Givens Jr., and several other committee members resigned after protesting the contract of Conference Executive Director Da’Quan Love because they had no control over it.

Concerns had been raised about Love’s alleged reckless spending of state conference funding.