By Zenobia Jeffries, The Michigan Citizens: DETROIT — Two local community groups and several community members are working to establish a new Detroit branch NAACP.
“People have been talking about this for two or three years now,” says Detroit resident Theo Broughton. “I think what is really happening is there are so many issues that are coming like a floodgate and there does not appear to be the kind of collective leadership advocating for the people in this community.”
Broughton, who says she has a questionable lifetime membership status with the 100-year-old civil rights organization, is also a member of the 20-year-old local community organization Hood Research. She says multiple civil rights threats against the city and its residents have left the community without leadership.
“There’s a minister or two here and there, but where’s the collective leadership?” she asks. “Hood Research is proud to work collectively with members of the community who want to build a new NAACP.”
According to Broughton, Hood Research is working alongside the organization We the People, which helped organize citizens against a mayoral takeover of Detroit Public Schools in 2010.
Members of We the People declined to comment.
Detroiter Glen Wash, a former Detroit Branch board member, agrees with having a new branch and says he let his membership expire.
“I let my membership go a long time ago, Wash said, citing “a lack of activity” from the largest NAACP branch in the country. “I saw no logical reason for supporting [it].”
Wash says the lack of having anyone speak out is allowing the system to disrespect the majority Black populous of the city.
“The silence is deafening,” he told the Michigan Citizen. “We just had an election and there was no support from [the current branch] at the polls.”
Wash says about the recent election to vote on a new city charter, the branch was responsible for letting the people know what they were voting on.
According to national NAACP officials, it’s highly unlikely Wash, Broughton and others will see another branch in the metro Detroit area, where other branches currently exist.
“Detroit [area] has three branches already,” said Rev. Gil Ford, the national membership and compliance field director. “It would be hard to approve another without cutting other branches.”
Ford further explained that members have a right to change leadership if they’re dissatisfied with their performance. He likened the start of a new branch because of displeasure of leadership to starting a new country because of dissatisfaction with the president.
“The idea of starting another branch is like saying it’s OK to start another country,” he said. “It’s confusing and the work will be lost.”
Broughton says she’s concerned about the branch’s election process, which will come again September – November 2012.
“It wasn’t even announced that they had an election last time,” Broughton said referring to the 2010 election. “It’s kind of interesting how their elections go.”