March 28, 2007

Smitherman wins NAACP vote

Christopher Smitherman, the former Cincinnati councilman who promised to make the Cincinnati NAACP chapter a more aggressive voice for civil rights, was elected its new president Tuesday.

In a vote ordered by the national NAACP after last fall's disputed contest, Smitherman took 187 votes to 134 for Edith Thrower, the Cincinnati branch's president since December 2004. About two dozen Smitherman supporters broke into cheers about 10:35 p.m. as they peered into the window of the NAACP's Reading Road office and saw one of Smitherman's election observers, former branch president Marian Spencer, give them a thumbs-up sign and a wink, telling them that their candidate had won.

Smitherman called his election "a tremendous win for the whole community. This is a win for everybody. I am going to get this organization back to substantive issues." The election was considered crucial because Cincinnati will host the NAACP's national convention in 2008.

Thrower stood outside, surrounded by a crowd chanting "throw her out" as she read the results posted on the office door. "Of course, I'm disappointed," Thrower said. "But as long as the process was done properly, then that is the decision of the organization, and I accept it."

James Clingman, an official observer for Smitherman, said Smitherman's election "gives the NAACP a chance to move forward with real integrity. So it's onward and upward."

The vote was important because of the contrasting leadership styles of Thrower and Smitherman. Smitherman made a name for himself in City Hall as a vocal and uncompromising critic of Cincinnati police practices. Thrower, president since 2004, is seen as a private persuader who maintains a low profile but accomplishes a lot. She was credited with persuading the national NAACP to bring its national convention here next year.

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory showed up about 8:10 p.m. to cast his ballot, and he posed for pictures and shook hands with supporters of both candidates. He would not say whom he was voting for. "I'm going to work with whichever candidate is elected tonight," Mallory said. "I just like to see the democratic process at work."

The Villager is cautiously optimistic about the future of the NAACP branch under this new administration. Black people need to have an uncompromising advocate for our issues ... and the NAACP is uniquely positioned to serve in that role. We look for Mr. Smitherman to justify the confidence placed in him by this vote. I 'spose we now have to see what happens with the national leadership in light of the recent resignation of Bruce Gordon.

Are you comfortable with the current leadership and direction of the NAACP branch in your part of the world? Is the NAACP relevant? For our Cincinnati-based Villagers, do you think that Smitherman can make the local branch relevant in the lives of the Black community?


credo said...

Not at all, when the organization is used only as an opportunity to take pictures with African-Americans by politicians

Anonymous said...

HELL YES!!! If anybody can make a difference, Smitherman can. He's the ONLY REASON I just became a member of the Cincinnati Branch.