An urgent appeal to Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, IIOpen Letter / June 23, 2017
This is a personal and public appeal to Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II to continue as president of the North Carolina NAACP Conference of Branches until a new NAACP State President is elected during its regularly scheduled October 2017 Convention.
As social justice movement elders and as longtime, dedicated members and leaders of the N.C. NAACP, our primary concern is to make full use of the Great North Carolina Fusion Movement to impact the recent court decision.
On June 5, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Berger-Moore leadership of the N.C. General Assembly to redraw the unconstitutional racially gerrymandered district lines which have been used in the last three election cycles. Several weeks earlier, N.C. NAACP President William J. Barber had announced he would turn over his president’s gavel to a temporary successor until his permanent successor is elected at the October 2017 Convention.
At the time of his announcement, Dr. Barber did not realize that in early June the Supreme Court would issue the unanimous national decision with great consequences for our democracy in North Carolina, as well as providing strong sanctions against the manipulative tactics used by extremists in N.C. and other states. Neither was he aware of the possible opportunity for fair, anti-racist legislative districts and a possible new election by November 2017.
It is the urgent duty of the social justice movement, including our NAACP State Conference and its many partners, to work full time on exposing the extremists’ contempt of the court’s orders. This is the reason for this personal and public appeal to Rev. Dr. Barber.
We are deeply concerned with the inaction of the N.C. legislature in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s strong decision, blasting the racial gerrymandering it used to gain and retain absolute control of all legislation. We are convinced that the Burger-Moore Caucus will continue to engage in all sorts of maneuvering, manipulation and avoidance tactics to generate confusion and division within the movement. These tactics must be effectively countered. In addition, we believe maximum pressure should be brought that lifts up the compelling moral urgency to redraw lines quickly with the possibility of 2017 legislative elections.
While the Fusion Movement is much broader than the N.C. NAACP, as attested to by the involvement of over 200 partners, the NAACP has always been the center piece, the anchor organization, in this movement. And all would agree that Rev. Dr. Barber has been the major moral, unifying voice of the movement. In short, it would be a very inopportune time for him to turn over his gavel to a temporary replacement now.
There are other factors which prompt this unusual letter. We understand that it is possible that the N.C. NAACP is close to making a decision on bringing on a new executive director. It would be important for Rev. Dr. Barber to be in place to assist with the orientation and transition of a new executive leader. This is especially the case in this period of political uncertainty and possible rapid developments.
We realize and appreciate that plans might be in place that prevents Rev. Dr. Barber from making the commitment we are asking him to make. Still, we want to make this direct appeal to him to remain as president of the N.C. NAACP through the October Convention. However, if he cannot remain through the convention, we ask him to give thoughtful and prayerful consideration and remain as long as he can.
We have chosen to make this personal and public appeal because, while it must be a personal decision for Rev. Dr. Barber, it is at the same time a decision deeply linked to the public good. We believe it is helpful for the public–especially the public that loves, respects and supports Rev. Dr. Barber–to be aware of this appeal.
Finally, as signatories to this appeal, whatever decision Rev. Dr. Barber is led to make, we commit to continue working shoulder to shoulder with him and his successor to realize the moral vision that he has so beautifully articulated for our state, and increasingly, for our nation.
Mrs. Mary Degree,
Rev. Nelson N. Johnson,
Rev. Dr. John Mendez,
Rev. Nancy Petty,
Ms. Valerea Russ,
Rev. Dr. Cardes H. Brown,
Mr. Amos McClorey,
Mrs. Daphne Holmes-Johnson,
Mrs. Joyce H. Johnson,
Atty. Al McSurely,
Rev. Dr. Rodney Sadler,
Ms. Kim Porter,
Ms. O’Linda D. Watkins,
Mr. Reuben Blackwell,
Ms. Dominique Penny,
Ms. Casandra Belcher Tripp,