Responding to a powerful “Urgent Personal and Public Appeal” not to leave office until the election next October of a new NCNAACP president, the current president, The Reverend Dr. William Barber, says he’s decided indeed to stay until then because of emerging issues.
“I cannot, and will not, seek another term as state president, but for the stability of the movement in these transitional moments, I will stay, with God’s help, until a new president is elected to lead the NCNAACP in October, the civil rights leader said in a statement Sunday.
Reverend Dr. Barber was responding to a June 20 open letter sent exclusively to the Black Press across North Carolina from sixteen members of the NCNAACP’s Executive Committee.
When Barber announced in May that he would be stepping down by June to join the National Poor People’s Campaign, he indicated that the NAACP Constitution already spelled out the mechanism for who would be next in line to succeed him, namely, the NCNAACP’s First Vice President Carolyn Coleman, of Greensboro, unless she turned it down.
Publicly, Ms. Coleman, a highly respected civil rights veteran, had not indicated whether she would accept the interim position or actually run for the NCNAACP presidency in October.
Thus far the only announced candidate is The Reverend Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, NCNAACP’s third vice president, and a Greensboro pastor.
Citing the recent U. S. Supreme Court decision striking down North Carolina’s 2011 legislative redistricting as unconstitutional because of racial gerrymandering in 28 voting districts, and the Republican leadership’s refusal to immediately begin redrawing the districts and planning for special elections, the appeal to The Reverend Dr. Barber made it clear that this is a time when his leadership is needed the most.
“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,” the June 20 open statement said. “This is the reason for this Personal and Public Appeal to The Reverend Dr. Barber.”
Among the signees were The Reverend Dr. John Mendez, of Winston-Salem; The Reverend Nelson and Joyce Johnson, of Greensboro; Attorney Al McSurely, of Chapel Hill; The Reverend Dr. Rodney Sadler, of Charlotte; and Daphne Holmes-Johnson and Kim Porter, of Winston-Salem.
“I was humbled by the personal and prayerful request that my friends and mentors within the NCNAACP made public this week,” The Reverend Barber replied. “I did not make the decision to consider stepping aside from my elected position this summer lightly. I’ve been in deep prayer and fasting about my calling to help lead the new Poor Peoples Campaign. I know this is work I must help with and attempt to guide. Of this, I have no doubt. “
“But I also know that our work here in North Carolina is critical to the work of the new Poor People’s Campaign and a national Moral Revival.”
The Reverend Barber went on to say that he had the support of his family, church, the chair and vice chair of the national NAACP, and team at his own social justice group, Repairers of the Breach, as well as the national leadership of the Poor People’s campaign.
“I can do none of this work alone. With everything in me, I believe in “WE.” We are living in serious times, and because I have heard a call from people who are committed to these serious times, I’m willing to do my part.”