Change the NAACP or let it die?
Florida A&M University is beginning a very important chapter in its storied life. Undoubtedly the gem of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, stakeholders writing that chapter are anxious to restore the brilliance of the brand; Excellence with Caring. They are not clinging to the past, but committing to the legacy that secures the university and prepares our students for the future.
FAMU has a long history of turning an inherent disadvantage into success, fascinating educators with each new benchmark. The new standard confirmed its relevancy. The university landed squarely in the Ivy League realm, on the radar of major corporations, the recipient of patents, major grants, research contracts, and findings. Merit scholars and faculty clamored to be part of this emerging phenomenon.
It is important to understand that institutional resilience is a FAMU trademark. Remember, HBCUs are in great peril and their presidents must be ready to defend and advance the mission constantly.
For that reason, a national presidential search is necessary. Transparency is critical to the process. It will provide the clarity necessary to find the right leader. FAMU cannot be victimized again by a hidden agenda facilitated by side deals that cost the institution it’s relevancy, dignity and purpose. A transparent search process gets us there.
Merit is the arbiter of this process; therefore, we must understand that no one is entitled to the job. There can be no backdoor entry for our next president.
FAMU deserves exceptional leadership and a national search will deliver such a candidate. The interim president, Dr. Larry Robinson, must have the right to be eligible to apply.
Florida A&M University is the great equalizer, rewarding the best of us and the least of us with an education that prepared many to compete, work and contribute to society that has been less than welcoming. This university has done great service to our community and we are obligated to keep the FAMU legacy alive.
I’ve been blessed and highly favored. Daddy has been around for as long as I can remember. He turned 94 this year. He still has his mental faculties and can still, with a little help, get around. Last week we went fishing “down at the pond” below the house he shared with my mom for about 20 years after they moved back to Bedford, Virginia from Philadelphia where they raised my sister and two knucklehead little boys (my brother and I) into adulthood.
As a child, I revered him, I saw him as a superhero of sorts: tall, powerfully strong, and on the side of right. I also respected him in the sense that I loathed the thought of him (or my mom) discovering any misbehavior on my part. Partially because I feared punishment but more so because I hated to disappoint them.
You see as I grew older, before I started school and thereafter, Daddy would take us to work. He worked a full time job as a cook at the Veterans Hospital in Philly and later in Valley Forge. But Daddy had mucho skills. We went with him after work on his job. He worked doing almost everything: plumbing and heating, hanging wall paper, painting, and working on cars. We would clean up, sweep, pick up trash, load and unload the various cars (like the old Dodge station wagon with the push button transmission). Sometimes we would just stay in the car all day Saturday outside his job.We’d wait for him to finish, entertaining ourselves with toy soldiers, flash cards and comic books.
Through it all, we learned first-hand how hard he worked to put food on the table, pay the mortgage on our modest three bedroom West Philly row house, and keep us in clean clothes and decent shoes. We saw the sweat dripping off his chin on those hot summer days in the converted evening before the coming Thursday election. If by some miracle the opposing slate(s) get to copy enough addresses for mailings, letters or whatever won’t be received until Wednesday or Thursday, Election Day. Some lists have no telephone numbers and/or email addresses.
The voter suppression activity actually begins before the April 1st deadline for all persons wanting to run for office in the coming November election. All such persons must be a “member in good standing” of the NAACP Branch in which she, he or they seek to run for office. Known opposing slate members may send in their membership or annual membership renewal paperwork including dues as early as say February of the election year.
However, at the October Nominating Meeting some 8 months later, opposing slate members learn that unfortunately their memberships were not in order because they were not returned to the Branch by the National Membership Office until after the April 1st deadline. That happens when a Branch holds memberships for a certain period before sending to the National NAACP, in effect, suppressing candidacies.
Election voter suppression occurs in the same way: New memberships not known to favor the existing regime are held so as to not be valid until after the election. (A person must be an NAACP Branch member, “in good standing,” at least 30 days before an election in order to be an eligible voter.) Maybe the NAACP penchant of internally sidestepping the democratic process is why theirs is not the loudest voices in important rooms concerning the national black voter suppression crisis.
A separate organization, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., carries out legal work on issues including voter suppression laws. But local, state and regional NAACP organizations could have put in place since the white nationalist voter suppression thrust, an antidote provision such as utilizing church buses and car pools to take poor and elderly black people to get newly required state identification, or whatever.
The trouble with civil rights in the first place is that its believers bypassed human rights to get there. How can you possibly deal with civil matters before you deal with Human Rights? horse stable garage he rented for twenty five dollars a month to work on cars. He would do all kinds of automotive work like body work, engine tune-ups and change the brakes on his co-workers cars. When I was tall enough, it was my job to pump the brakes to get the air out of the system. I can hear him now: ”Alright pump it…keep pumping it …hold it… push down... are you pushin’ ?” My brother and I had all kinds of ancillary duties, and adventures, with Daddy in the garage.
As I grew older, the first thing I wanted to do was get a paying job. My thought was, if I’m going to spend my spare time working (with my dad) I might as well try to work somewhere and get paid. I started “junkin’” with my friend Rabbit, and cleaning at Mrs. Hill’s house, when I was about 11 years old and there was no turning back.
I also began to learn more about my superhero Dad. As I grew taller than him, he was still tall. As my brother grew stronger than him (I don’t think I ever was) he was still strong. I learned that he was a WWII era Navy Veteran; worked in the coal mines of West Virginia as a young man and maybe finished eighth grade (no wonder he and my mom were so hot on us getting through school). As I grew into manhood I began to see him as a man, with faults, shortcomings, and having made some mistakes along the way. In short, as a man having lived life. But he was never less to me than the father I’d always known, loved and admired.
On our fishing trip last week, we got stuck three times - twice getting down to the pond and once getting back to the house. Although he doesn’t drive on the street anymore, I gladly turned the wheel over to Daddy to navigate the truck out of the mud and milkweed each time, getting us to dry land so we could move forward. Oh, the score: Daddy caught eight keepers, I caught none.
Through it all Daddy has always been Daddy. He has never been my “friend” although I‘ve always loved him and we’ve almost always been friendly. I’m not one who has had a lot of friends. But I’ve always been happy to have a father who was a father. He doesn’t have to be my friend, I have friends and will hopefully have more. I won’t have another Dad and, because he is who he is, I won’t need another one. Blessed and highly favored.
Happy Father’s Day Daddy.