Smear Campaign Targets North Carolina NAACP Election Results
Velma Thomas of Winston-Salem is not happy about the results of the state NAACP election that removed landlord Melvin ‘Skip’ Alston and home-healthcare operator Gladys Shipman, both of Greensboro, from their respective positions as president and 1st vice president of the state conference of branches.
She didn’t like the way the Oct. 8 election was run, so she drafted a complaint and e-mailed it to at least one North Carolina newspaper. She said she also filed it with the NAACP, or National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s branch and field department in Baltimore.
She alleges that the faction that rallied behind newly-elected president Rev. William Barber and a host of other successful challengers suppressed support for Alston and his allies and coerced youth delegates to vote for Barber.
‘“The organization that is always hollering and screaming that people should have equal access to the candidates is doing exactly the same thing,’” Thomas said in an interview on Oct. 21. ‘“I’m appalled. They have in fact coerced and manipulated the vote.’”
Thomas, who identified herself as the youth advisor for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth NAACP, said her understanding of the civil rights organization’s bylaws is that challenging an election requires 25 delegates from five different chapters to file complaints with the national office.
The complaint Thomas forwarded to YES! Weekly did not include any signatures; she declined to provide any or offer information about where to reach other complainants.
She acknowledged that she is the complaint’s author. Her primary target is Gina Dean, state youth advisor for the NAACP. The complaint alleges that Dean denied youth delegates access to the candidates during the convention and that she circulated a list instructing them to vote for certain candidates. Thomas said she planned to challenge Dean in a future election.
Dean, who is the director of minority affairs at the NC Department of Transportation in Raleigh, didn’t return phone messages on Oct. 21.
Thomas’ complaint appears to have some credibility problems, beginning with its first line, ‘“As delegate [sic] of the NC State Conference, we would like to file a complaint about the elections held at the NC State Convention.’” Thomas told YES! Weekly that she did not attend the convention, and couldn’t name any of the people who alleged that the candidate’s list was circulated.
‘“Some youth reported to us that they received a list of people from Gina Dean and were told to vote for those candidate [sic] names,’” the complaint states. ‘“Right before the election, Gina Dean gave the children, a list of people, and told them, this is who you vote for.’”
Three members of NAACP college chapters said in interviews that the allegation was news to them.
‘“I didn’t personally see it or hear about it,’” said Cynthia Stubbs, president of the UNCG chapter. ‘“This is the first I’ve heard about it.’”
Roshaunda McLean, a member of the NC State University chapter in Raleigh and a native of Winston-Salem, said she was asked to be a voting delegate, but declined because she didn’t feel she knew the candidates well enough.
‘“I nor anybody I was with received a list of names from Gina Dean,’” she said. ‘“If she gave it to anyone, I never heard about it.’” She also said she and other youth members received campaign literature from the candidates.
Monique Wells, president of the Appalachian State University chapter in Boone, also said she never saw or heard about a list.
The complaint also states: ‘“Lafonda Jones [sic], a NAACP member, held a workshop, and was told by a young man by the name of Desmond, that was accompanying Gina Dean that she could not wear the pins and stickers that were on her coat in support of Skip Alston, as she was conducted [sic] her workshop for the youth.’”
LaFonda Jones, who was reached at a phone number provided in the complaint, said the statement was false.
‘“I had nothing to do with the election complaint that was written,’” she said. ‘“I have asked for a retraction [from Velma Thomas].’”
A presenter during the hip hop workshop who works with the Fam Foundation in Durham, Jones said she was puzzled by the inclusion of her name in the complaint.
‘“I don’t have a dog in this catfight,’” she said. ‘“I quite like the person who was elected. I don’t want anything to do with this. And I don’t appreciate my name being used to stir things up.’”
Willis Richardson, executive assistant of the NAACP Branch & Field Department, declined to comment but said he wasn’t familiar with the complaint.
Alston and Shipman, the ousted state leaders from Greensboro, did not return phone calls on Oct. 21.
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