November 8th, the NAACP San Antonio Branch elections are more important than any I can remember in my lifetime. Local political leaders and public servants are paying attention to the type of leader the NAACP will choose for future negotiations and considerations.
As a person who is an activist for Black businesses across the state of Texas, I know the real leaders and the fake ones. The position of NAACP President is no light decision – and the next leader will have the big boots to step in of Oliver Hill who has been the Branch President for longer than anyone can remember. The NAACP San Antonio Branch has had a steady leader with a steady resolve to community issues. The culmination was bringing the national convention to San Antonio in 2018 as the local branch celebrated 100 years of service and said farewell to the matriarch, Minnie Hill, whose vision is was to see San Antonio as the city of the 2018 convention.
The two candidates for President to replace Oliver Hill include Cassandra Littlejohn and Dr. Gregory Hudspeth.
Now I know politicians and leaders say all the time, "This is the most important election." But this one really is that important. The stakes really are that high.
First, the City of San Antonio has yet to address the Jobs shortage of African-Americans…nearly a thousands jobs short compared to what other cities with similar populations have done. The City’s Affirmative Action Committee has a charter that is exempt from Civil Rights law. The question is what is the NAACP going to do or say to address perhaps institutional discrimination?
Secondly, the City of San Antonio and Bexar County financially participate and use your tax payer dollars to support San Antonio’s Economic Development Foundation (EDF). The SAEDF has chosen to include San Antonio’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on their board with the San Antonio Chamber and the North Chamber but has not granted any Black Chamber of Commerce (out of the two) a board seat. Why? Blacks have been purposely left out of the decision making and strategic arm of the city and county's private foundation. The Mayor and City Manager have been made aware of the problems with the County Judge and the Mayor and Judge have pledged to do something. The EDF issued a statement to me indicating they would consider the oversight in the future but content to operate as usual. What role would the NAACP have under a new leader? My hope is the new leader will be focused on economic development using a new team and strategy. The questions should be asked by the NAACP if the City and County should stop budgeting and spending our tax payer dollars with the SAEDF until a proper decision is reached?
Thirdly, the City of San Antonio was named as one of the most segregated cities of America. The SA Observer has written countless stories about the wealth gap and education gaps that lead to this disparity. This wide spread disparity for Black and Brown people makes sense to know that segregation leads to inferior housing, lower paying jobs, less recycling of money in the poorer areas of our community, and constant struggles with education performance and increased criminal activity. Our next NAACP leader must be thoughtful, collaborative and a great problem solver to these bigger issues that impact Black people.
Black San Antonio, this is just a few of my concerns as I place my vote. How we will fight truth to power and activate the entire organization is the monumental challenge of San Antonio’s NAACP. How we will include our youth into the organization and make it relevant to them? Truly, may the best person be selected for the job.
Remember, the consequences of you not voting -- or not doing everything in your power to ensure your friends, family, and neighbors vote -- could be monumental.
San Antonio and Bexar County is at a crossroads, and control of the NAACP may be decided by a handful of voting members.
Make no mistake: The direction of the city and the county will come down to who turns out and who stays home. And the greatest threat to our NAACP is indifference.
Indifference is exactly what kills our unarmed youth in the streets or in their homes, shortens the lives of our seniors who need better care, and keeps Black organizations, churches and businesses on the ropes of potentially going out of business.
This election, we must choose a leader not based on popularity but based on the can-do spirits of the leaders who came before them. Leaders who can be ‘ride or die’ with our cause… and be a role models for action.
You can vote on November 8th at the Barbara Jordan Community Center.
Christopher C. Herring is the Chairman of the Texas Association of African American Chambers of Commerce. Since 20111, Herring is the Mayor’s appointee and Chairman to the City of San Antonio’s Small Business Advocacy Committee. Since 2013, he served as the Chairman of the City of San Antonio’s Diversity Action Plan Subcommittee. He is a past president/CEO of the Alamo City Black Chamber of Commerce and founding member of the Fair Contracting Coalition. He serves as Chairman to the editorial board of the San Antonio Observer. He is a Silver-Life Member of the NAACP.