Floridian to lead national NAACP board


NEW YORK CITY – The NAACP board of directors elected Leon W. Russell as the chair of its board of directors at a meeting on Feb. 18 in New York. Russell replaces Roslyn M. Brock, who decided to step down as chairman after seven years of leadership.

“This is a most prestigious, yet humbling honor and one that escalates in importance as we move into a new era of increased challenges against civil and human rights,” said Russell.

“I am indebted to the work and leadership of Chairman Emeritus Brock and President (Cornell) Brooks for inheriting a powerful organization that after 108 years, still remains the most relevant and influential civil rights organization in our nation. I assure you that I will keep watered the seeds of activism and social justice that the NAACP’s legacy spouts from.”

‘Solid foundation’
Said NAACP President/CEO Cornell William Brooks: “I am proud to welcome Leon W. Russell as the new chairman of the NAACP board. His lifelong commitment to civil rights and human rights as a member of the NAACP and leader in the state of Florida, represent a rigorously solid foundation for taking the platform of social justice to greater heights. I cannot think of a better successor to the stewardship of the organization than Mr. Russell.”

“I am honored to have served seven years as chairman of the nation’s most important civil rights group,” said Brock, NAACP board chairwoman since 2010.

“Leon W. Russell is a stalwart NAACP civil and human rights leader who is prepared to lead the NAACP into the future.

“Mr. Russell has been the chief architect in the development of the NAACP’s strategic plan and champion of its organizational policy and resolutions process. His commitment to the Association’s mission of protecting civil rights for all Americans remains unquestioned,” she added.

Former Florida president
Russell most recently served as vice chair of the NAACP’s national board and has been a board member for more 27 years. He was president of the Florida State Conference of Branches of the NAACP from 1996 to 2000, after serving for 15 years as its first vice president.

He is a former director of the Office of Human Rights for Pinellas County government in Clearwater from 1977-2012, where he was responsible for implementation of the county’s human rights and affirmation action ordinances.

Many memberships, awards
The recipient of numerous civic awards and citations, Russell also served two terms as president of the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies. The IAOHRA represents civil rights agencies from the US and abroad responsible for enforcing state and local civil rights laws and the promotion of intergroup relations.

He is also a member of the International City Management Association; the National Forum for Black Public Administrators; on the board of directors of the Children’s Campaign of Florida; a past board member of the Pinellas Opportunity Council; past president and board member of the National Association of Human Rights Workers; and a member of the Blueprint Commission on Juvenile Justice, with responsibility for recommending reforms to improve the juvenile justice system in the state of Florida.

New VP elected
The 64-member board also elected Mississippi NAACP State President Derrick Johnson as the board’s vice chairman to replace Russell.

Johnson currently serves as state president of Mississippi’s NAACP branches. He also serves on the board of directors of the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, and as an adjunct professor at Tugaloo College.


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