Compiled by Courier Staff
Following a much contentious campaign, amid suspensions, and national office intervention, the Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) elected a new president, Civil rights attorney James H. Hall Jr.. Hall launched a reform committee to take control of the Milwaukee branch of the NAACP, won the election Saturday night.
Hall defeated Wendell Harris, who was the NAACP first vice president under Jerry Ann Hamilton, the outgoing president. The election had been rescheduled due to conflicts that involved current NAACP members and their supporters versus a group of individuals who were unhappy with the way the branch had been run under the leadership of president Jerry Ann Hamilton, who has served 10 years as president.
The national office of the organization stepped in, first issuing suspensions to 8 members who were associated with the reform committee, including some who had filed formal complaints against Hamilton’s administration. Those members were not allowed to vote in Saturday’s election. Secondly, the national office ordered any election procedures that had been conducted earlier to be not in accordance with its office, and sent representatives led by the Rev. Gil Ford from the NAACP national office in Baltimore to oversee and conduct the election process.
Hall and Harris reportedly were both pleased with the process. Harris stated, that he thought the fact the election was run by the national office “gave it credibility again.” He said he wishes Hall the best and will do what he can to move the branch forward.
President-elect Hall released the following statement regarding his new position: “First, I would like to say that I am thrilled, humbled and honored with the outcome of this afternoon’s election for the Presidency of the Milwaukee NAACP. To all of my friends, supporters – my wife, I say thank you. I would also like to acknowledge Mr. Harris and his supporters for running a spirited campaign until the end; the branch will be stronger as a result of having a competitive election. The effort that has been put forth by all members of the Milwaukee branch, including the supporters of Mr. Harris, has been tremendous and reflective of the need for a strong, unified NAACP in Milwaukee. Now the real work begins.”
“While the campaign was in many ways like any other heavily contested election, the election day itself featured a positive and unifying atmosphere, proving my belief that all NAACP members are passionate about working together to bring greater prosperity to our community. Going forward, as we stated throughout the election, we will be One NAACP. With the renewed passion and interest that arose from this election, I know that we are ready to be the leaders and advocates that this community so greatly needs. We will grow our membership base, reach out to other communities, and work with anyone who is committed to fulfilling the mission of the NAACP. Tonight, our future is bright.”
“Again, I thank my family, all of our supporters, Concerned Citizen’s for Reform (including those members who were suspended) and all of the members and supporters of the NAACP who participated in large numbers in today’s election. The level of participation and involvement made this a victory for our whole community.”
The community is now looking for this new leadership to deliver on the campaign promises. And despite the criticisms that individuals had with the previous adminstration, the community needs the NAACP to remain relevant and steadfast on issues that affect the African American community’s interests. Hamilton’s 10 years of service included being a voice on issues that many other individuals and organizations didn’t address. The minority participation of the U.S. Census, Hamilton spoke out and encouraged dollars to be spent in the community and in the Black Press to help encourage the Black community to participate in the Census process. The Milwaukee NAACP stepped up when the idea of police being in MPS schools was introduced, along with school reform and the proposed Mayoral School Takeover efforts. They were also on the scene when a local bar owner thought it was a funny prank to burn a effigy of President Obama and lie about it. These are just a few examples of 10 years of service from Hamilton’s adminstration, and she should be applauded for her ‘service’ regardless of differences of opinions.
Hall and his team of reform have a large task ahead of them, and it will benefit the organization and the entire community if the organization continues to look out for the rights of African Americans in Milwaukee. And if Harris stays true to his word as well, the mending of fences can take place and move the organization forward.