State Politics

NC NAACP’s Rev. William Barber delays stepping down until new president is elected

The president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, the Rev. William Barber, plans to stay at the helm of the organization until new leadership can be elected in October, he announced Sunday.

He had planned to step down this month to organize a new Poor People’s Campaign in Washington, D.C. In a statement, Barber, 53, cited recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions on voting rights and election district lines, and the possibility of a special election this year, as the reasons behind the decision.

He said, “Further, we did not yet face the prospect of a legislative body passing a budget that would cut millions from the justice department and promote rules that would ban protestors. These and other factors have caused me to reconsider the timing of my departure from leadership.”

On Wednesday, 16 members of the N.C. NAACP published a letter in the Winston-Salem Chronicle appealing to Barber to stay on as president until the organization’s October convention.

The members wrote, “At the time of his announcement, Dr. Barber did not realize that in early June the Supreme Court would issue the unanimous national decision with great consequences for our democracy in North Carolina, as well as providing strong sanctions against the manipulative tactics used by extremists in N.C. and other states.”

The 16 people who signed on to the public letter, including the Rev. Nelson Johnson of Greensboro and the Rev. Nancy Petty of Raleigh, said the state NAACP could be close to hiring a new executive director.

“It would be important for Rev. Dr. Barber to be in place to assist with the orientation and transition of a new executive leader,” they wrote. “This is especially the case in this period of political uncertainty and possible rapid developments.”

In his response to the appeal, Barber said Sunday, “I cannot and will not seek another term as state president, but for the stability of the movement in these transitional moments, I will stay with God’s help until a new president is elected to lead the NC NAACP in October.”

Barber said he still plans to help organize a new Poor People’s Campaign but will wait until he can formally hand over leadership of the state NAACP.

The N.C. NAACP and Barber led regular Moral Monday protests at the N.C. General Assembly in 2013 when Republicans took control of both chambers in the legislature. Barber has said he plans to take what he has learned in North Carolina to focus on similar issues on the national stage.

Duncan: 919-829-4880, @duncanreporting