NAACP: Goliath Beats David on Election Day

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 ***links and updates forthcoming 

The stone and slingshot were no match for Goliath this evening as he trounced David.  The incumbent slate of candidates led by President James Douglas beat newcomers eyeing for their positions by a 2:1 margin according to ballot counts.  Of the roughly 350 ballots cast for President, 250 went for Douglas and Ford took home 100.

AN UPHILL BATTLE 

In addition to facing the name recognition and relationships of the incumbent slate, there was another factor: voter turnout among millennials who’d make up the base of the Ford slate.  With Election Day only being opened from 7am-5pm, there was an obvious advantage to the Douglas slate whose supporters are more likely to be retired or more established allowing a flexible workday and a sure vote for Douglas. 

Lloyd C. Ford, Eddison Titus, and Ciara Suesberry ran for President, 1st Vice President, and Secretary of the Houston Branch of the NAACP, an organization celebrating 100 years in existence this year.  

The “tug-of-war” of power included lawsuits and claims of impropriety launched from both sides.  The branch sued Ford shortly after he decided to put his name on the ballot, and he fired back with a lawsuit of his own.  The trio of newcomers was once a quartet including Richard Bonton who was knocked off the slate due to his membership lapsing shortly this year.  Then there was the break-in at the branch where only the executive director’s computer came up missing.

This is not the first time turmoil went public at the Houston NAACP.  Seven years ago, there was a public tussle between then-President DZ Cofield and the Executive Director, more on that here:

 

The new slate claimed corruption amongst the existing leadership and complicity among the power brokers of Black Houston, and they brought receipts in the form of a secret recording of State Senator Borris Miles.

The a secret audio recording of the Senator was released, and we had a chance to review the full 63 minute conversation where Miles agrees that corruption exists and has for over 30 years, but tells the new slate they were going about it all wrong.  He said in the recording that they shouldn’t go through the organization like a “Bull in a China Shop,” but should instead take power by assuming a less-alarming prowess.  He uses for example how he handles his “arch-nemesis” Howard Jefferson and Ben Hall.  While nothing earth-shattering, it does leave the question: “What was the senator talking about, and is he complicit?”

Here’s a link to a clip: 

The recording made its rounds before gaining ground as it was mentioned in the Afram News, a regional newspaper catering to the African-American community.   Gerry Monroe was the first to mention the recording, and followed up with a question at yesterday’s press conference, just one day before Election Day.

Here’s how that went:


Just moments before this, another press conference was taking place outside the branch organized by the Ford slate.  According to them, they were locked out of the branch, even though they’re members.  The cops were called by the branch an apparent assault followed outside with the Presidential candidate being shoved by a man walking up asking “Remember me?”  

Here’s the link: 

 

Last night an email was sent from the branch telling members the election would be overseen by National instead of the local branch as tempers continued to flare.

Voters had from 7am -5pm to vote at the branch before the official meeting at 6:30 pm. 

In the end the incumbent slate beat the newcomers 2:1, but I applaud them for running.  I see a bright future for Lloyd, Eddison, and Ciara.  I was impressed by the way they handled themselves online, on tv, and in general.  Mostly, their unabashed posture in the face of the assumed power brokers of Black Houston. 

 THE INCUMBENTS

Shortly after taking office, Dr. Douglas appointed me Chair of the Community Coordination committee of the NAACP, and went out of his way to give advice and connections where possible.  In fact, shortly after I’d moved to Seattle, I received a call from Dr. Douglas connecting me with another young, Black lobbyist/organizer also moving work under the dome of the Washington State Capitol.  And while I appreciate his counsel, I can also critique the branch leadership objectively. 

While many of us protested a charter network taking over Worthing, Kashmere, Wheatley, and seven other Black and Brown schools, it was Dr. Douglas, President of the NAACP working the magic behind the scenes as a board member of the charter.  At a recent HISD meeting, he better explained his position in the matter, but I feel it would’ve been better for the organization had he not been on the other side, even as a private citizen, it’s a bad look for the NAACP in my opinion. 

There’s also the mild stance on issues impacting Black Houston in our neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces.   I expected to see a firm, unapologetic response from the city’s most storied civil rights institution.

And while the election is over, this movement to change the NAACP is not.  I plan to get more involved at the branch, and hope to see Lloyd, Ciara, and Eddison, too.  Furthermore, I hope to see YOU.