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Saturday, June 10, 2023

The NAACP Is Having An Election…. Who Knew?

Chris B. Bennett

By Chris B. Bennett
The Seattle Medium

Until last week very few people knew that the Seattle King County NAACP is in the middle of a contested election. At stake, who will lead the organization for the next two years and control the direction and advocacy efforts of the oldest NAACP branch west of the Mississippi.

The background of the revelation to many in the area was a social media post by former Seattle King County NAACP President Carl Mack announcing his endorsement of Sadiqa Sakin — a former non-profit administrator who has worked for both the Snohomish County and King County NAACP Branches in various capacities since she became a member in 2004 — for president of the branch.

Mack’s post obviously was not received well by everyone, as a response to the post apparently from current NAACP President, Gerald Hankerson, was so demeaning to women that it set off a firestorm of social media activity by many who were appalled by the comment and ultimately brought forth the fact to the masses that the NAACP will have an election on Nov. 26, 2018. A subsequent post by Mack stated that the current NAACP president called him and said that he did not write the post and that his Facebook account had been hacked.

Let me be clear, this is not about what the current NAACP president may or may not have said, done, etc. It’s not about taking sides in the upcoming election. This is about the need for people to get involved with organizations that are chartered to make a difference in our community.

The NAACP is a volunteer organization and it’s only as strong as the people involved. Not just the officers of the organization, but the various committee members/chairs who put in a tireless number of hours advocating for those, who often times, can’t advocate for themselves.

According to the bylaws of the organization, “Each Branch shall mail one notice to each member in good standing, postmarked at least ten (10) days prior to the September meeting, listing the time, place, date and purpose of the September and October meetings and time, place and date of the November election that is centralized and large enough to accommodate the quantity of members. In addition, to this notice, each Branch shall place the announcements of such meetings and election in one or more local newspaper of general circulation at least ten (10) days before the date of the November election.” However, by following these bylaws it does not appear to allow proper notice for new and potentially new members to have an opportunity to vote in the upcoming election. In order to be eligible to vote, a person must be a member in good standing at least 30 days prior to the election date. Which begs the question, why would the NAACP allow a public notice to be published only 10 days prior to the election? The NAACP is currently in the midst of a national campaign to register voters and to fight voter suppression, yet, arguably, their own policies could limit the number of people who are eligible to vote in local elections if the branch chooses to wait until 10 days prior to the election to provide notice to the public.

As it relates to the local election, there are a number of contested positions in the upcoming NAACP election, including president (Gerald Hankerson and Sadiqa Sakin), 2nd vice president (Sheley Secrest and Jacqueline Jones-Walsh), and secretary (Jasmin Williams and Rhonda Johnson) to name a few. As with any organization, there are many people who bring many different things to the table. There are young people who need a chance to lead, there are the old guards who may need to step aside, there are young people full of ideas but lack the knowledge and discipline to execute, and then there are the old warriors who have the ability to lead the fight but lack the energy, that they once had, to carry on multiple fights at the same time. Unfortunately, in today’s racially charge environment we have more battles than we have warriors. We need more warriors to fight the battles that need to be fought. We need more people with persuasive personas to be at the table during negotiations, and we need more people that care about the well-being of others to volunteer their time and advocate for things that will help make things better for the masses.

It doesn’t matter whether you join the NAACP, a church or any other organization in our community. Our community needs warriors and it’s easy for you to apply. In the case of the NAACP, in order to become a member in good standing in time to participate in the upcoming election, you must fill out a membership application and pay the appropriate dues for the membership level (basic memberships are only $30) that you select by this Friday, October 26, 2018. The best way to do it is online at https://seattlekingcountynaacp.wildapricot.org/join-us.

It’s time to stop standing on the sidelines talking about what someone is or is not doing. It’s time to stop sitting on the sidelines talking about what an organization should be doing or could be doing better. Stop, stop, stop and stop! It’s time for the legions of warriors in our community to take their proper place in battle – on the front lines.

Through the eyes of an ink barrel may peace be unto you!

Chris B. Bennett is an award-winning journalist and co-publisher of The Seattle Medium newspaper. You can follow him on twitter @The_inkbarrel.

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