Toledo branch NAACP president WilliAnn Moore said all of its board of directors have completed leadership training required by the national NAACP office, helping the local branch avoid the controversy that has engulfed the neighboring Cleveland branch.
Mrs. Moore said Toledo's five executive officers and 23 board members were required to attend a class called “executive leadership mandatory certificate training,” which is required by NAACP rules and bylaws.
The national NAACP office and the Cleveland branch are embroiled in a battle that is threatening the branch's national standing and putting its community programs - such as AIDS education and job training for welfare recipients - at risk.
The national office ousted Cleveland president George Forbes, an attorney, former city councilman, and longtime Cleveland political figure, from his office in September for not completing the leadership training.
The branch's executive board reinstated him at its next meeting, but the national office said it didn't have the authority to do so.
The national office, in October, excused nine more members of the Cleveland branch's board of directors for failing to complete the training.
Nelson B. Rivers, III, the director of national field operations, said in a published report that more than 400 NAACP officers have been dismissed around the country for failing to complete the training, but Cleveland is the only branch rejecting the measure.
Percy Squire, an attorney for the Cleveland branch, called Mr. Rivers “a rogue cop” who has not given the branch an opportunity for a hearing to resolve the dispute.
Mr. Forbes said if the national office doesn't reinstate him or grant the branch a hearing, it will likely sue Mr. Rivers for that right.
“Right now, we're at a standstill,” Mr. Forbes said last week. “We don't have a president and we don't have many of our board members.”
Mrs. Moore, who is serving her second term as NAACP president, said Toledo members traveled around the state to receive the training, which was conducted by regional and national representatives.
“I don't think it was anything negative Julian Bond [NAACP chairman] and Kweisi Mfume [NAACP president] were trying to do,” Mrs. Moore said. “What they were saying is that if you want to lead, then you have to be trained. I see it as a good thing. Everyone had to go through the training. There were no exceptions.”
Mrs. Moore said even Marshall Williams, 87, the board member emeritus of the Toledo branch who has been an active member for nearly 60 years, made it to leadership training.
“Marshall Williams is the example all of us should follow,” Mrs. Moore said.
Mr. Williams, who has held local, state, and regional offices with the NAACP, said even though he doesn't want to seek any new leadership positions, he saw the training as an opportunity to refresh his education.
“I'm established and I've done my work,” Mr. Williams said. “It was a chance for me to learn a little more, but people who haven't been involved can really use it.”