NAACP moves to stop N.Y. youth group from honoring Chavis

October 08, 1994|By James Bock | James Bock,Sun Staff Writer

Six weeks after he was fired, former NAACP Executive Director Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. may be becoming a "nonperson" in the civil rights group.

The NAACP's general counsel has ordered a New York state youth leader to "cease and desist" from a plan to have Dr. Chavis present an award named for himself at the state's annual convention this weekend in White Plains, N.Y.

The plan for a Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. Award, to be given to outstanding youth members, "is not in the best interest of the NAACP," Dennis Courtland Hayes, the general counsel, wrote in a letter Oct. 6 to Randy Robinson, president of the New York State Youth and College Division.

Mr. Robinson was also ordered in a Sept. 30 letter from Hazel N. Dukes, president of the New York state NAACP, "to withdraw any award named for [Dr. Chavis] and any invitation which may have been extended to him and make sure that he is not in attendance at the convention." The Sun obtained copies of the letters.

The youth leader, a 17-year-old pre-law student at Hunter College, said he had been told not to comment.

Ms. Dukes said yesterday that she had barred Dr. Chavis because he has challenged his firing by suing the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Settlement talks are under way in the case.

"When you have a lawsuit, you have to be very careful," she said. "If the lawsuit had been settled, I think they could have proceeded with it."

Dr. Chavis, who lost his $200,000-a-year job after making a secret deal to pay a former aide up to $332,400 to ward off a threatened sexual-harassment lawsuit, said he remained "supportive of the youth members of the NAACP in spite of the fact that [NAACP officials] are now preventing me from speaking to the youth."

"Unfortunately, there are still some individuals who are attempting to erase the positive contributions that I made to the NAACP," he said.

Margaret Marques, 19, a member of the Brooklyn NAACP Youth Council, said the invitation was the "youth's way of showing Dr. ++ Chavis our support."

Michael Bather, 15, another youth council member, said: "We should have the privilege of inviting whoever we want to. We really support Dr. Chavis; we love him. Nobody I know feels the way Hazel Dukes does."

NAACP officials have said Dr. Chavis' reports of large membership increases among youth during his 16-month tenure were inflated.

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