By Howard Spence
LANSING, MI -- The Michigan State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has ordered that a special election is held to elect an entirely new slate of officers and executive committee members for the Lansing branch of the NAACP. The Lansing branch of the NAACP serves the greater Lansing area here including residents living or working in Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton Counties. The special election is to be held on Saturday, June 3, 2017, at UAW Local 724 Union Hall, which is located at 450 Clare St., Lansing, MI 48917.
The NAACP was founded more than a century ago in response to the rampant and violent lynching of black Americans. Over the past 100 years, the black community and communities of color as a whole have experienced tremendous advancements. Yet, as we continue to march towards the arc of justice, additional barriers have been placed in our way in the forms of voter suppression: increased police brutality, over criminalization of black bodies, income inequality and inadequate health care as well as anti-immigrant sentiments. At the present time on a national level, it has more than a half-million member and supporters throughout the United States.
The NAACP's principal objective is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority group residents of the United States and eliminate race prejudice. The organization seeks to remove all barriers of racial discrimination through democratic processes. Membership is open to persons of all races and colors who commit to supporting the objectives of the organization, and who are committed to eliminating the barriers of racial discrimination in our country.
The special election became necessary recently when all of the present officers of the local chapter here in Lansing area resigned. Most recently, the organization was headed by Rev. Yvonne McConnell. McConnell resigned recently when her elderly mother experienced an illness which required her to devote more time to her mother’s care.
"I love this organization, and what it stands for," stated McConnell. "Over the past 2 years, I have put many personal hours into working to make this organization visible and effective here locally in the greater Lansing area. There are many challenges here locally facing people of color and minorities which require the concern and attention of organizations like the NAACP."
When McConnell resigned, apparently all of the remaining officers and members of the executive committee also determined for their own personal reasons that they too should resign at this time.
"The Lansing branch of the NAACP is one of over 40 local chapters here in the state of Michigan under the oversight of the Michigan State Conference of the NAACP. The Lansing chapter itself presently has over 500 financially active members and contributors living in this area," said McConnell. "Although there is a relatively large and dedicated general membership of interested persons of all races, genders, and religious backgrounds involved in our organization locally, over time it has occurred that there is a small nucleus of members who actually come to the monthly meetings and carry out the local business of the Lansing branch. Perhaps the change in leadership and officers and executive committee members at this time will help provide the impetus to reinvigorate our local chapter and to get more and newer, possibly younger members involved in the programming."
One of the major community projects of the Lansing Chapter is fundraising for related programs. Most of the chapter's fundraising comes from the annual local NAACP Freedom Fund dinner, which is typically held in the fall.
The positions to be nominated and elected are: President; first, 2nd and 3rd VPs; Treasurer; Assistant Treasurer; secretary.; assistant secretary and at-large members of the local chapter's executive committee (minimum of 10 executive committee members but no more than 24).
According to the notice of election issued by the Michigan State Conference of the NAACP, all persons who endorse the aims and purposes of the NAACP who have paid the prescribed membership fees and are in good standing of the branch shall be entitled to vote at this meeting and/or be nominated for office. To be considered for elected officer status in the local chapter, those nominated must live for work within the jurisdiction of the local branch. In order to vote in this election, everyone participating must present a form of identification. Members who are reflected on the active membership roll will be allowed to be nominated and elected and will be allowed to vote.
Prior to the election, nominations for offices will be taken from the floor. A member does not have to be present to be nominated and elected, but anyone nominated and elected must have submitted a completed written consent form indicating interest and willingness to be nominated for one and only one office. The completed written consent form and/or nomination statement must be presented by someone attending on June 3rd, which is the time that the election is conducted.
Anyone who is a member in good standing of the Lansing chapter of the NAACP is encouraged to consider this great and needed public service to the community. If you have questions about the election, qualifications for office, or any other aspect of the mission of the NAACP and related programs, you should contact Yvonne M. White, President of the Michigan State Conference of the NAACP. Her telephone number is 313-835–9671. Her email address is NAACP.Michigan@gmail.com.
"There is still much need for an active NAACP here in the greater Lansing area. Historically the NAACP on a national level and also the greater Lansing branch chapter of the NAACP have been integrated racially, and members of all segments of our community have worked together towards common goals of equality, justice, and protection of the rights of all which are granted to us and guaranteed in the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments of the United States Constitution," said McConnell. "It is my hope and prayer that the outcome of this election will lead to a reenergized local chapter with a greater participation of members of all different racial and ethnic groups here in our community. Over time other community groups and organizations have appeared and worked with us on projects of mutual interest which relate to our common goals designed to protect the rights of all of our residents and to engender a better, more peaceful, and integrated community. There still is much work to be done here in the greater Lansing area. Hopefully, we will be able to grow from this moment towards a more collaborative, focused, efficient and impactful organization."
For clarification the author's name was added to the article.