NAACP Executive Director Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. said Monday he believes that “forces outside the African American community” are using his out-of-court settlement of an employee’s sex discrimination claims to try to wrest control of the organization from him.
Chavis declined to name those forces, but he blamed people who are unhappy with his alliance with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
“I believe some of this campaign is being orchestrated by forces outside the African American community working in concert with a small number of forces inside the NAACP,” Chavis said.
When asked whether he was referring to Jewish groups that asked Chavis to distance himself from Farrakhan because they believe Farrakhan is anti-Semitic, Chavis said: “Everybody reading that is going to know who I’m talking about.”
Chavis is under pressure to resign for using $64,000 in NAACP money, without consent of the 64-member board of directors, to settle a former employee’s sex discrimination claim out of court.
The former employee, Mary E. Stansel, has since filed a lawsuit alleging that Chavis and the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People reneged on a portion of the $332,000 settlement.
The loudest criticisms of Chavis have emanated from the NAACP’s board of directors, most of whom are black.
“I just don’t think this search for enemies . . . is productive. It’s a scapegoating exercise,” said Michael Meyers, a former NAACP staff member who now serves as executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition. “He has to assume responsibility for his own behavior and conduct.”
Meanwhile, the 13 NAACP chapters in Oregon and Washington on Monday reversed a decision by their conference president, Greg Evans, to withhold money from the national office, saying he acted against their wish to support Chavis.
“Mr. Evans has done a great disservice to the NAACP,” said a statement issued by ShaRee Rhone and Henry Luvert, presidents of chapters in Portland, Ore., and Eugene, Ore. “We do not agree with him and wanted to openly say so.”