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Muhammad new NAACP chief

The embattled branch has a new leader and a new opportunity for success

In a persistent rain, they came out to vote to change the leadership of the moribund local NAACP.

After almost two decades of leadership by Jerry Mondesire, elections were held at Beech Complex, because gas, heat, electric and phone service had been cut off because of nonpayment at the storefront NAACP headquarters on Cecil B. Moore Avenue, a block away. That's embarrassing.

The backdrop was provided in a story by my colleague Valerie Russ:

Of some 1,300 paid numbers – disgracefully low in a city of Philadelphia's size with almost half the residents being African-American -- Minister Rodney Muhammad was chosen by the 261 who voted, I was told by Secretary Rochelle Bilal, who called it a "landslide," but did not disclose vote totals.


People stood in the rain outside the polling place at Beech today, while candidates handed out literature and talked to voters inside the polling place. It was all pretty informal and friendly. The majority of voters when I was there were middle-aged and up, with only a scattering of younger people.

While the vote was going on, I spoke to two of the competitors to take over leadership -- Minister Rodney Muhammad of Mosque No. 12, and Thomas Logan, a retired Philadelphia AFL-CIO official.

Muhammad had what I'll call the "outer view," while Logan had the "inside view."

Muhammad spoke mostly of "moving in the direction of the original mission of the NAACP, to fight injustice, even the playing field for all Americans," African-Americans and poor whites, the people "who are suffering the most."

Logan said his immediate goal was to "provide clarity in leadership" and rehabilitate the NAACP to "make sure what happened never happens again." Of immediate concern was reassuring donors. "The NAACP is not self-sufficient," he said. "We depend on those who believe in the mission."