With election to select a new president for the city’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) just two weeks away, some African-American community leaders say incumbent president Kenneth Clayton has a thin record for action.
Clayton, who has been president for two-terms, has been absent from major community issues, said David Gilmore, city activist. Gilmore said the organization has been silent on too many issues: the shooting death of Jacoby Hyatt, who was wounded in the abdomen, according to police reports, but was shot in the back, said the activist; the death of Randolph Waddy, who was chased while on a motorcycle by two volunteer auxiliary police officers resulting in a crash – the two officers were never charged with causing Waddy’s death.
Gilmore also stated that the chapter has not been taking an active role in increasing educational attainment in the community. “Where is the NAACP in terms of voice for the lack of educational outcomes?” asked Gilmore, citing the 19 students, who were deemed college ready.
Former state senate candidate Lynda Gallashaw said the only two issues the organization played an active role in was in boycotting a local tabloid and standing on the side of two youngsters involved in an animal cruelty incident. “When the incident with the Rutgers girls’ basketball team was under attack by a radio announcer, the Hackensack chapter had to take on the issue for Paterson players,” said Gallashaw.
“She lacks information,” said Clayton. “If she was a member and she came to meetings she’d know what’s going on.” Gallashaw said she’s a former member, who did not renew her membership, because the organization was doing very little to impact change in the city.
Gallashaw pointed to another case involving city resident Robert Moore. She said Moore was arrested with marijuana possession despite having industrial hemp growers’ license. Moore contacted the city’s chapter seeking assistance; however, the organization refused to help, said Gallashaw.
Clayton said the chapter’s attorney reviewed the documents, but did not find any merit to the case. Gilmore added Clayton, who is pastor at the St. Luke Church on Carroll Street, is a very active and well-loved pastor; however, that vigorousness did not carry over to his presidency. With all the criticism of his record as the chapter’s president, when asked to discuss his record, Clayton said, “I cannot do that right now, I’m busy.”
“It’s not like we’re saying it behind his back, we’ve confronted him on several occasions, and he just doesn’t respond,” said Gilmore.
Gilmore said the president’s record should be separated from his church work. The activist added that too many confuse his church leadership with the chapter’s leadership. He said separating Clayton’s record from his church work allows for a more clear-cut view of what he’s been able to accomplish as president.
“I think we need some new leadership to get the NAACP stimulated,” said Russell Graddy, owner of Mr. G’s Restaurant, who is seeking to unseat Clayton during the chapter’s November 24th, 2014 election. When asked about Clayton’s record Graddy said he would not say anything negative about the pastor.
Gallashaw, who said the chapter has done a poor job sending out notifications to its members about the upcoming election, called for Clayton to resign two weeks ago in a public meeting held inside the Passaic County Community College. She said the organization’s bylaws required notifications to be dispatched to all members; however, she said, many members have informed her they did not receive notifications.
“When you look at the NAACP, all its history and legacy and its mission and you see what’s happening right now within the confines of the current leadership — you have to be disappointed,” said Gilmore.