Editorial: As Barber leaves, who will lead the N.C. NAACP?

Editorial: As Barber leaves, who will lead the N.C. NAACP?
October 05
11:00 2017

This week in Raleigh, a momentous event will occur. Bishop Dr. William J. Barber II will be stepping down as N.C. NAACP president during the convention after 12 years at the helm.

Barber’s name has been tightly linked to the N.C. NAACP as he gained nationwide fame as the leader of movements seeking justice and social change for African-Americans and others in North Carolina and the United States.

Cash Michaels wrote for The Chronicle that Barber ultimately created, and then led, a multiracial, multi-generational coalition of social activists from every corner of the state, building the largest state NAACP conference in the South, making him a force to be seriously reckoned with by every political leader in North Carolina.

And he also challenged the state’s NAACP membership to be more accountable to the needs of the respective communities they serve, and not be afraid to speak truth to power by filling the streets, churches and local government meetings with a defiant energy that ultimately became a powerful, and potent political force to be reckoned with by both Democrats and Republicans.

(See more Cash Michaels stories on the N.C. NAACP  in this issue of The Chronicle.)

So, how do you follow that?

Rev. Dr. Portia Rochelle, president of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP Branch, and Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, N.C. NAACP third vice president, are vying to succeed Barber. They each have their own ideas about what they would do to move the N.C. NAACP forward. Members must decide which way they want the organization to go.

The members will have inspiration at the convention.

A special “Forward Justice” session featuring veteran civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson and others will talk about the next phases in the fight for voting rights, including automatic voter registration.

Other notables invited to appear include new interim NAACP national President/CEO Derrick Johnson, U.S. Sen. Corey Booker (D-NJ) and prominent black journalist Roland Martin, who will be the keynote speaker for the Saturday evening Freedom Fund Banquet.

“We have an exciting convention for you,” said Daphne Holmes Johnson from Winston-Salem, N.C. NAACP Convention Planning Chair, during a recent press conference in Raleigh. “This is a civil rights convention for you to learn, to be entertained, to be prayed for, to continue the movement. We will bring you many, many speakers, many plenary workshops, and you will get to have fellowship with the greater area of Raleigh, and other members that join us from across the nation.”

The 74th annual N.C. NAACP Convention opens at the Raleigh Convention Center, Thursday, Oct. 5 through Saturday, Oct. 7. It will close with a new president and, it is hoped, a new resolve to keep fighting.

The theme for the convention will be: “Forward Together, Not One Step Back … For Justice We Never Sound Retreat!”

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