For the better part of a year, the Anne Arundel County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has done its best to mimic the infighting, divisiveness and loss of mission that have afflicted its parent organization. It, too, needs to resolve internal problems and get back to the business of civil rights.
After contentious, ineptly handled elections that dragged from November through last week, the local NAACP has devolved into warring factions. First, Jean Creek, president of the group for 18 years, defeated challenger Gerald Stansbury by 11 votes. But the national NAACP, acting on an appeal by Mr. Stansbury, ordered a new election; it found that both candidates had been denied access to full membership rolls during the campaign.
The national NAACP took forever to schedule a second election, thus providing ample time for resentment to fester between the Creek and Stansbury camps. Mr. Stansbury's supporters blasted Mrs. Creek for letting the local chapter slide; Mrs. Creek dismissed Mr. Stansbury as a puppet of Annapolis Alderman Carl O. Snowden, one of the state's leading civil rights activists. A second election -- which, incidentally, was embraced by Mrs. Creek -- was finally held June 28, and once again the race was close. After taking an inexplicable two weeks to count 54 contested ballots, the NAACP finally announced a winner: Mr. Stansbury, by two votes. Mrs. Creek isn't ready to concede.
It is time for this election to end. Mr. Stansbury has won. Mrs. Creek's supporters need to accept that. Their complaint that Mr. Stansbury has little history of activism within the NAACP is moot now. Let him lead. If he doesn't make the group stronger, there's always another election not far down the road.
Mrs. Creek's long record of service notwithstanding, the NAACP needs a fresh start in Anne Arundel. It has not been a powerful presence in recent years; it didn't even bother to protest a Klan demonstration in Annapolis last year. The very fact that less than half of the local NAACP membership bothered to vote in the recent elections shows that members have become disillusioned. The new NAACP leaders -- and the old ones -- need to put petty grievances behind them and start working together on the myriad important issues that affect all of us.