San Diego National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter president Francine Maxwell was removed as president and as a member of the organization by national NAACP leadership this week for repeatedly ignoring orders and not following organization policy.
Last year, Maxwell became the President of the San Diego NAACP chapter after serving as Vice President since 2019. While initially there were no big complaints and things carried on as normal, relations between the San Diego chapter and the national party soon strained. Against NAACP national policy, the San Diego branch began speaking favorably of charter schools. This started an investigation against them by the national leadership.
The continued support led to former San Diego branch president Clovis Honore to be suspended in 2020 for “behavior detrimental to the organization”. Although vague and without reason, it was linked directly to the chapter’s support of charter schools.
This year, the San Diego branch went even further away from the national organization by opposing the nomination of former San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) Superintendent Cindy Marten as the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. Questions of a contested election over branch leadership seats last year also popped up.
With the national NAACP Board seeing so many bylaws and policies bucked, they finally took action in September and appointed Administrator Alphonso Braggs to oversee the branch. Specifically, Braggs was to look after the financial affairs of the branch and become a signatory of the treasury. However, Maxwell and others at the San Diego branch refused to add him on, saying that she had done nothing wrong and was not being allowed due process. This led to the national NAACP giving her a cease-and-desist in October, warning her of further consequences and accusing her of harming the branch and the NAACP as a whole.
With no other option, the national NAACP finally suspended her this week, effectively removing her from not only her position but the organization as well.
“Despite repeated requests from Administrator Braggs, you have failed to comply with the National NAACP’s directive. More specifically, you have failed to add Administrator Braggs to the Branch’s bank account. In addition, according to Administrator Braggs, you have declared that no checks will be written,” wrote NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson in a letter on Monday. “By deliberately failing to cooperate with Administrator Braggs, you are engaging in conduct that is inimical to the best interests of the Association. Your continued recalcitrant conduct will cause irreparable harm to the Association and the Branch.”
“In light of the potential adverse impact on the Association and the Branch, I am satisfied that your continued membership in the Association presents a danger of harm to the NAACP and the Branch and that action is necessary to prevent or mitigate that harm. Accordingly, I hereby suspend your membership in the Association, effective immediately, pending investigation and a full hearing (if you so request) regarding the allegations contained in this letter.”
“You are directed to cease and desist immediately from holding yourself out as a member of the NAACP and as the Branch President.”
While Maxwell has not yet responded to the decision as of Wednesday, First Vice President Brian A. Bonner said that the NAACP will stand behind Maxwell and plans to appeal the decision.
“I was surprised and disappointed to see the action taken by national NAACP today,” said Bonner in a statement. “We will support Ms. Maxwell as she appeals this unwarranted action.”
“The branch will continue its important work during these challenging times.”
Experts noted on Wednesday that the San Diego shift is indicative of local groups tailoring policy nationwide to local needs and beliefs.
“Whenever I see something like this, I always think of whenever a more maverick Presidential contender tries to get the office,” said Lance Powell, a lobbyist relations coordinator, to the Globe on Wednesday. “Look at people like John McCain, or back in the day, Teddy Roosevelt completely going against parts of the the party platform because that’s what they believed, or because when they served locally in an area, local interests had them be in favor of something else.”
“Same principle here. San Diego was largely on board with national policies, but just really got their ire initially because of charter schools. A few other Californian branches liked them too, but San Diego kept pushing other things, which is why they have been suspending so many people and trying to get control back.
“And this is important too. NAACP endorsements are huge, and whenever issues arise in the black community, the NAACP is usually the first one there to help voice these concerns. Even a one issue difference could have huge impacts. Look at how embarrassed the national NAACP has been over this. Really says something. And going into the election next year, should not be ignored at least for local elections.”
Maxwell is expected to appeal the national decision soon.
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