The Charleston Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is scrambling to hold an overdue election for officers that should have been held in November.
The Rev. Joseph Darby, the branch’s president, said a five-member nomination committee is expected to present a slate of nominees in about two weeks. As the organization’s first vice president, Darby became president when long-time president Dot Scott resigned in October.
“I will [be the president] until they find someone else who is interested and capable,” Darby told the Charleston City Paper.
The NAACP also has an opening for a third vice president following the Rev. Lawrence Bratton’s resignation in October. Bratton declined to comment when asked about the gap in the branch’s leadership.
“I don’t have anything to say about the organization,” said Bratton, pastor of Bible Way Baptist Church in West Ashley.
Branch members should have voted in November through Election Buddy, a new online voting method implemented last year by the NAACP’s national office, said Darby, senior pastor of Nichols Chapel AME Church on Bogard Street. He said he first heard about Election Buddy “when we started talking about the election at the end of October.”
Darby said he tried to hold at least two recent weekend meetings to prepare for the elections. The meetings had low attendance. On Jan. 29, about two dozen NAACP members met at Greater St. Luke AME Church in Charleston. Darby missed the meeting due to a recent hospitalization. He was released Thursday. Brenda C. Murphy, president of the NAACP South Carolina State Conference, chaired the meeting.
“We are just a little behind in Charleston” with setting up Election Buddy, Murphy said. When asked why the Charleston branch is playing catch-up, she paused then said, “Well, they are behind. We are doing what we can to assist the officers in Charleston.”
Scott, the longtime former president, declined to comment about the voting delay.
“This organization is too important,” said Scott, who became branch president 21 years ago. She hopes the 106-year-old branch, the oldest in South Carolina, “does not skip a beat.”
Oceanographer Dr. Stephen Cofer-Shabica of Mount Pleasant, chairman of the branch’s education committee, said the election delay will be a passing blemish on the branch’s reputation.
“With all organizations things go up and down and there are issues that you ultimately resolve,” said Cofer-Shabica, who formerly served as a third vice president. Scott’s resignation, he said, “left the branch out on a limb. Rev. Darby [was] sick and that’s an issue, and then Bratton just decided he was going to quit. This makes it a little hard to realize these things happen in any good organization, but this certainly is not going to be fatal.”
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