By Clint Confehr
NASHVILLE, TN — A new president has been elected for the Nashville Branch of the NAACP.
The Rev. Keith Caldwell will succeed long-time president Ludye Wallace. Rev. Caldwell’s term is scheduled to start in Jan. 1.
Caldwell’s four-point election platform is consistent with national association concerns: health care, economic justice, housing and criminal justice reform.
“We will also respond to the immediate needs that grow from our community,” he said.
With “huge momentum” from passage of the community oversight board referendum, Caldwell plans to “harness that energy within the branch” to stop racial profiling, he said. “We’re also looking for ways to build relationships with the police so it’s not so adversarial, particularly in the black community. We want oversight and accountability through transparency. We are extending the olive branch to say we would like for this to happen.”
Gloria Jean Sweet-Love, president of the Tennessee State Conference NAACP, says “The association was very instrumental in getting the Community Oversight Board referendum … passed.”
Caldwell is “watching at the state level for any resistance. I saw that Casada out of Franklin wants to do some kind of state override of this [referendum] … that’s really foolishness. We’ll be looking for the mayor to give a full-throated embrace of this and have metro legal respond if need be.”
State Rep. Glen Casada (R-Franklin) wants to be the next speaker of Tennessee’s House of Representatives. He chairs the House Republican Caucus.
Also elected Nov. 15 were: Sheryl Allen Huff, 1st vice president; Sheryl Guinn, 2nd vice president; and Marilyn Brown, 3rd vice president.
Voter turn-out “was pretty good,” Brown said, dismissing rainy weather. “People are looking to get on board and do good things.”
She works with Justice For All so former inmates can regain citizenship rights and vote in public elections.
“We would like to see legislation to accelerate the re-enfranchisement of ex-felons,” Sweet-Love said. “Once you’ve done your time, your voting rights should be restored.”
Exact tallies on election results were withheld by the private organization.
A completely successful slate of candidates included Assistant Branch Secretary Blondell Strong Kimbrough who was elected secretary. Robin Kimbra was elected assistant secretary. Lynn Ewing was elected treasurer. Ada Jones was elected assistant treasurer.
Sweet-Love, conference president since 1996, remains administrator of the Nashville branch, having been appointed by national leaders in July as a result of “personality conflicts and chaos going on in the branch,” Sweet-Love said. “They were not doing the work that the NAACP needs to get done.”
Out-going branch president Wallace has health issues.
“We’ve seen a real turnaround,” Sweet-Love said. “We have been trying to work with the community to rev-up the branch and reimagine the work of the NAACP” here.
“This will give us a brand new start with a new president,” she said. “Having this branch back in full force is vital to help us across the state.”
All 17 candidates for executive committee were elected. They are LaQuisha Allen, Monet Brown, Sonnye Dixon, Tene Franklin, Brenda Gilmore, Charles Kimbrough, Lindsey Langley, Gordon Larkins, Dee McCain, Judy Mainord, Don Majors, Annette Moore, Arthur Overall, Ludye Wallace, Ronnie Whitney. Bruce Woods and Richard Vineyard.
Unsuccessful candidates: Dan Battle Griffin and Venita Lewis for president; Corey Jenkins and Erica Lanier for vice president; and Emele Battle Griffin for secretary.
Sweet-Love authorized release of the ballot and results.