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Today we here at The Black Fist Blog bring to you a very special commentary from one of our most fearless and dedicated activist and a black man who we are proud to call friend, Bro. Nathaniel Livingston Jr.
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NAACP members urged to vote 'no confidence' on Smitherman
Earlier in the month, I began contacting NAACP members asking them to join me at the May 23 monthly membership meeting of the Cincinnati Branch of the NAACP that was to have been held at Unity Baptist Church in Evanston.
I had encouraged members to take votes on the following: 1. Re-affirm that the NAACP is bigger than any one man, it is an organization that stands on principle. 2. Re-state our commitment to the principles expressed in a press release issued by the Cincinnati Branch on June 15, 2009: • The Cincinnati NAACP opposes budget cuts that disproportionately impact African Americans and the poor (i.e. swimming pools, recreation centers, and health clinics). • The Cincinnati NAACP believes taxing exercised stock options is fair. • The Cincinnati NAACP believes there should be "no sacred cows" during a discussion of budget cuts during a "financial crisis," the police and fire departments should be considered for cuts. • The Cincinnati NAACP recommends direct management of overtime in the police and fire departments. • The Cincinnati NAACP recommends the complete suspension of the police horse program. • The Cincinnati NAACP recommends the City stop underwriting all off-duty details through District 1. 3. In February 2009, Cincinnati NAACP President Christopher Smitherman orchestrated a "no confidence" vote concerning Mayor Mark Mallory's leadership. At the time, Smitherman insisted the vote wasn't personal, it was about holding elected officials accountablefor their votes. That's old news, but what's good for the goose is good for the gander.
I urged the members to take a vote of "no confidence" in the leadership of every sitting member of the City Council who advocates positions contrary to those held by the Cincinnati NAACP -- budget cuts that disproportionately impact Black and poor people; opposition to taxing exercised stock options (or failure to do anything to advance the discussion during this Council term); and treatment of the police and fire departments like sacred cows.
I had assurances from several members that they would attend the May 23 meeting and they would insist on taking the votes, even if it meant voting no confidence in Councilmember Smitherman, who just happens to be the Branch's president, because of his proposal to balance the budget on the backs of Blacks! Specifically, Smitherman has suggested cutting all City funding of the Center for Closing the Health Gap, the African American Chamber of Commerce, Juneteenth, and the Black Family Reunion.
On May 23, Smitherman issued a statement cancelling the meeting and claiming the NAACP is on summer recess until August. Was this done to suppress the vote or otherwise prevent members from expressing their believe that Councilmember Smitherman's votes on Council and political advocacy run counter to the principles held by the Cincinnati NAACP? Was this a stall tactic to give Smitherman time to rally his political supporters who rarely attend meetings? I tried to find out. I placed a call to the National Office today seeking clarity, and spoke with Rev. Gil Ford. He stated he knew nothing about the meeting being cancelled.
I continue to urge a vote of no confidence in Smitherman. Since Smitherman cancelled the May 23 meeting, I'll keep pushing to have the members take votes in what is supposed to be an organization run by members, not a dictator.
Nathaniel Livingston Jr. Cincinnati