Af­ter 34 years in Bal­ti­more, NAACP will head for D.C.

Word of mov­ing HQ comes only 4 months af­ter set­ting up new lo­ca­tion within city

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By McKenna Ox­en­den

The NAACP an­nounced plans Mon­day to even­tu­ally re­lo­cate its head­quar­ters from Bal­ti­more to Washington D.C., af­ter mov­ing to a new lo­ca­tion in the city a few months ago.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser signed a let­ter of in­tent to move the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ad­vance­ment of Col­ored Peo­ple into the Frank D. Reeves Cen­ter of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs, which is home to other gov­ern­ment agen­cies and is set to un­dergo new de­vel­op­ment.

“Washington, DC, sits at the epi­cen­ter of change,” Der­rick John­son, NAACP pres­i­dent and CEO said in a news re­lease. “This ex­cep­tional op­por­tu­nity to bring our na­tional head­quar­ters to DC will al­low us to be even more proac­tive in serv­ing the Black com­mu­nity, and con­fronting the se­ri­ous chal­lenges fac­ing the na­tion.”

The decision to re­lo­cate comes only four months af­ter the NAACP, the na­tion’s old­est civil rights group, moved its na­tional head­quar­ters from North­west Bal­ti­more to the Wells Fargo Tower in down­town Bal­ti­more at the end of Fe­bru­ary.

John­son said the move to the na­tion’s cap­i­tal is some­thing the NAACP en­vi­sioned three years ago. He said it will help the or­ga­ni­za­tion am­plify Black voices as it fights for “cru­cial pol­icy changes and eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment needed in com­mu­ni­ties across the country.”

Through a so­lic­i­ta­tion to be is­sued this year from Washington’s Of­fice of the Deputy Mayor for Plan­ning and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, the Reeves Cen­ter is sup­posed to trans­form into a tran­sit-ori­ented, mixed-use de­vel­op­ment with of­fice space, af­ford­able hous­ing and neigh­bor­hood-serv­ing ameni­ties.

“The Reeves Cen­ter stands in an iconic and cul­tur­ally sig­nif­i­cant area of the U Street cor­ri­dor with deep con­nec­tions to the NAACP,” Bowser said in a re­lease. “As we con­tinue fight­ing for change and work­ing to build a more fair and just na­tion, we look for­ward to wel­com­ing this iconic civil rights or­ga­ni­za­tion to Washington, DC.”

The NAACP came to Bal­ti­more in 1986 from New York City. And this isn’t the first time the or­ga­ni­za­tion has thought about mov­ing to D.C.

For­mer NAACP chair­man Ju­lian Bond said in 2006 that the move was “all but def­i­nite” but cau­tioned that it’s not some­thing that would hap­pen quickly.

“It has noth­ing to do with the city of Bal­ti­more,” the late Bond told The Sun. “We love the city of Bal­ti­more, ex­cept its lo­ca­tion. It’s not lo­cated in Washington, and Washington is where we need to be.”

The NAACP said the rea­son for want­ing to re­lo­cate back then was that it wanted more space, easy ac­cess to train sta­tions, ma­jor roads to Washington, ho­tels and other ameni­ties.

The Bal­ti­more De­vel­op­ment Corp. of­fered the or­ga­ni­za­tion a $500,000 grant in 2009 to help with re­lo­ca­tion costs within the city and helped com­pile a list of 15 pos­si­ble lo­ca­tions within the cen­tral busi­ness area. One year later the NAACP an­nounced that it would stay in Bal­ti­more but di­rec­tors said it was not con­tin­gent on a “fi­nan­cial pack­age” from the city.

The fi­nal decision to stay in Bal­ti­more came af­ter three may­ors en­cour­aged the or­ga­ni­za­tion to stay and un­der a new NAACP chief ex­ec­u­tive.

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