At a meeting to clear the air after the firing of NAACP Executive Director Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., the Baltimore NAACP branch announced last night that it was postponing its annual Unity Banquet partly because of fallout from the controversy.
The meeting also featured a surprise appearance by Martha Rivera Chavis, the wife of the ousted NAACP national leader, who said she had been hurt by "misinformation" about her husband. Mrs. Chavis taped much of the meeting at the Baltimore Urban League's Orchard Street headquarters.
When Mae Barry, a branch member, called Dr. Chavis' former $200,000-a-year salary "outrageous," Mrs. Chavis angrily shot back that it wasn't too much to pay someone who "risked his life every day to defend the African-American community. . . . Get more information before you talk about the national NAACP."
But Mrs. Chavis expressed support for the city NAACP, and she stood to applaud Earl T. Shinhoster, the national NAACP's interim leader, who spoke to the group of about 50 people.
Dr. Chavis was fired Aug. 20 after the board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People learned he had made a secret deal to pay up to $332,400 to a former aide who accused him of sexual harassment.
Rodney Orange, Baltimore NAACP president, said the Chavis controversy had undercut business support for the city branch's annual Unity Banquet. The $100-a-plate fund raiser, originally scheduled for Sept. 21, is now set for Nov. 9 at Martin's West.
George N. Buntin Jr., the branch's executive director, said the postponement was also necessary because a computer malfunction had delayed the mailing of invitations to the event. The branch is counting on the banquet to help eliminate a $40,000 deficit.
Mr. Shinhoster praised Dr. Chavis' "lasting and valued contribution" to the NAACP.