Black GOP candidate says NAACP slighted her

October 04, 1994|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,Sun Staff Writer

The only black Republican candidate in Howard County charged yesterday that the local branch of the NAACP intentionally left her name off a list of black candidates in the group's newsletter.

"The Howard County branch of the NAACP has blatantly, and I believe knowingly, acted to suppress my candidacy," said Evelyn L. Tanner, who is challenging influential three-term incumbent C. Vernon Gray for the Howard County Council's 2nd District seat.

Officials of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People were unable to comment on the charges yesterday, said Edward Young, the group's second vice president. The group's president, the Rev. Bowyer G. Freeman, and first vice president, Kenneth Jennings -- the two most familiar with the conflict -- were out of town.

A list of local black candidates in the August edition of the NAACP's newsletter, "The Commit

ment," did not include Ms. Tanner's name, according to a copy of the publication provided by Ms. Tanner. It listed the names of the five other black candidates in the county, including Mr. Gray.

The contest between Ms. Tanner and Mr. Gray in the November general election is the county's first between black candidates.

"The NAACP in effect is endorsing Mr. Gray without reviewing his record," Ms. Tanner, 53, said at a news conference in front of the county's Republican headquarters in Columbia. "Such behavior betrays the clearly stated principles of the NAACP national organization.

"The NAACP stands for the nonpartisan identification of all African-American candidates for public office."

Mr. Gray declined to comment and said he had not seen the newsletter. "I was not involved in it in any way," he said. "It is unfortunate that she has chosen to malign the NAACP and its members. I am sure it was just a mistake."

Ms. Tanner said she has been a member of the NAACP since her parents signed her up as a child.

She said she spoke with Mr. Freeman several days after the newsletter was distributed and that he apologized and said it was an oversight but did not do anything to correct the problem.

"I waited as long as thought I should, because I really wanted to give them every opportunity. They have not done anything," Ms. Tanner said.

Ms. Tanner said she wants the local chapter to give her a written apology and include her name among black candidates in the group's next newsletter.

Neither Ms. Tanner nor Mr. Young knew when the group's next newsletter was scheduled to be published. Mr. Young said he does not know the circulation of the newsletter. The local chapter of the NAACP has about 1,000 members.

Ms. Tanner said she was "not bashing the national NAACP or even bashing this local one."

"I am simply asking a question of the Howard County branch," Ms. Tanner said.

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