By Henry Hamilton III
Ever since Milwaukee Branch NAACP president Jerry Ann Hamilton won the November 2008 NAACP election, she and other volunteers have been hounded by a small group of individuals determined to disrupt the organization and throw the organization off its civil rights agenda. These individuals have resorted to interrupting branch meetings, publicly criticizing branch officers, and using the Internet to spread false and malicious rumors. Through it all, the Milwaukee Branch NAACP has remained focused on civil rights.
The local branch is spending appreciable time working with a coalition of 38 local organizations resolved to defeat the proposed mayoral takeover of the Milwaukee Public School System. The proposal, if passed, will change the management and control of MPS from an elected multimember policymaking body (representing the varied educational interests of students, parents, and citizens) to an appointed one-person policymaking body accountable not to the public, but to the mayor. It is still not known whether legislators will hold public hearings in the affected community – the City of Milwaukee – before debating this radical legislation.
The legislation represents an epic betrayal of the people of the City of Milwaukee.
The branch continues to advocate for an equitable distribution of federal stimulus funds, a fully funded bus system, a regional transit authority, equitable distribution of city services, apprenticeship opportunities for African Americans, full and equal employment opportunities, and a fair and just criminal justice system. The branch has been involved in restructuring attempts of the educational atmosphere at key schools within the central city, and in transformation of Johnson’s Park, Alice’s Garden and the Brown Street Academy. The Milwaukee Branch NAACP youth program is second to none in the country. As you can see, there is much work to do.
It is time for detractors to join the fight for civil rights or move on. Sour grapes can become poisonous. The detractors have had ample opportunity to air their concerns. Their allegations of wrongdoing were duly investigated by the national office of the NAACP and determined to be unfounded.
It is our hope that this small group of individuals will convert their energy from community- destroying activities to community-building activities. The decision is theirs, however, with or without them the Milwaukee Branch NAACP will move ahead – without interruption – accomplishing Milwaukee’s civil rights agenda.