By DOUG MANN
MINNEAPOLIS-The local branch of the NAACP is about to elect its leadership. Its current president, Leola Seals, was elected in the fall of 1997 on the promise to act like the head of a civil rights association instead of an ol’ boys’ network.
Under her leadership, the branch has opposed several policies of the mayor and city council, including a neighborhood schools plan (which would resegregate the schools), a “zero-tolerance” police strategy in poor neighborhoods, and the repeal of an affirmative-action hiring clause in the city’s Civil Rights Ordinance.
The NAACP presidential election was originally scheduled for last fall. Those opposed to Leola Seals selected former Minnesota state Rep. Richard Jefferson as their candidate.
In a Star-Tribune article, Jefferson criticized Seals for taking part in protests against the school board and city government. “These are tactics of the ’60s,” he said. “I don’t think they worked so well in the ’60s, and I don’t think they will work that well in the ’90s.”
But Jefferson was not allowed a spot on the NAACP branch ballot last fall because he was not paid up on his dues.
Accordingly, his supporters filed a lawsuit against the branch to force a postponement of the election in order to allow them to put Jefferson and a full slate of candidates on the ballot.
The suit was dropped after the national NAACP stepped in to mediate. Now the election is scheduled for Jan. 9. We recommend a vote to retain Leola Seals as branch president.