It was reform, transparency and integrity versus proven leadership and experience as the two candidates for the presidency of the Milwaukee NAACP vied for support…and branch member votes at Saturday’s Community Brainstorming forum at St. Matthew CME Church.
Many community residents and Milwaukee NAACP members who attended the forum expected verbal fireworks and theatrics from the candidates— NAACP Branch Vice President Wendell Harris and Civil Rights Atty. James Hall.
But the debate between Harris and Hall was civil, though things did get a little heated as accusations were hurled by both candidates and a few attendees during the question and answer portion of the forum.
Harris, who is the first vice president of the Milwaukee Branch and a long-time civil rights advocate and labor organizer, said he’s the most qualified to run the organization.
The NAACP vice president listed among his accomplishments the successful fight against the Milwaukee Public School governance change, as well as making the Milwaukee Police Association, the organization representing Milwaukee police officers, more inclusive.
Harris said the notion that the NAACP is irrelevant and non-inclusive is false, adding that the Milwaukee NAACP branch is the leading branch in the U.S. as identified by the national office. “My agenda is the agenda of the NAACP,” he said.
Hall, a long time member of the NAACP with 30 years of law experience including working on the landmark American Family Insurance redlining case for the civil rights organization, promised a full accounting of the organization’s financials and total transparency in all organization dealings.
Hall told the forum audience he wants the Milwaukee NAACP to be “a big tent, not an isolated group. People want to be involved, but not made to feel unwelcome.
“We want to be one NAACP; run in an organized and structured way,” said Hall, who’s campaign slogan is “reform, restore, refocus.”
The NAACP branch elections will be held November 20. Only NAACP members can vote.
The election is from 1 until 5 p.m. and will take place at M&I Bank, 2745 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, in the bank’s lower level.