He's not forming a new organization, Chavis insists

August 24, 1994|By Ann LoLordo | Ann LoLordo,Sun Staff Writer

Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., host of the National African American Leadership Summit, wanted to be perfectly clear -- he is not forming a new organization.

The summit, which concluded yesterday in Baltimore, is "a movement" to build unity, he said.

But the movement will raise money, he said. It will have a temporary address -- a Washington, D.C., office -- that will soon have a telephone. A fax. A post office box. An administrative assistant.

But it is not a new organization, Dr. Chavis told reporters gathered to hear the results of the three-day summit that he says drew more than 100 participants -- community activists, clergy and professional people.

"I'm not forming a new organization. We are not forming a new organization," said Dr. Chavis, the ousted executive director of the NAACP. "What we are doing is fostering a new initiative into our community."

Dr. Chavis' characterization of the summit comes a day after he filed a lawsuit against the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, contesting his firing Saturday by the board of directors. As executive director, Dr. Chavis organized the first summit in June under the NAACP's sponsorship. The second summit was slated for this past weekend. Despite his firing, Dr. Chavis convened the summit, moving it from NAACP headquarters in Northwest Baltimore to Bethel A.M.E. Church in West Baltimore.

After spending the morning in court, where his lawyers argued that he should be reinstated to his NAACP post, Dr. Chavis returned to the Bethel church to report on the results of the summit. There, surrounded by 50 participants, he pronounced the meeting "victorious."

Dr. Chavis, 46, announced that the group had developed a strategic action plan that would address education, health care, and environmental and economic development concerns affecting the African-American community. The group's goals would include establishing an African-American development fund, creating a task force on environmental toxins, sponsoring a wellness conference and an African youth day, he said.

"The summit is going to be reconvened and reconvened and reconvened . . . " said Dr. Chavis, who was elected by the participants as the "convener" of the leadership summit. The next one is scheduled for Dec. 10-12 in Chicago, he said. Until then, the people and organizations supporting the summit movement will hold rallies in several cities, he said.

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