AFTER A FEUD that resulted in the ouster of the Philadelphia NAACP's longtime leader and three other officers, the local chapter has named the Rev. Carl Fitchett as its new president.
Fitchett, the group's first vice president and a former pastor of Mount Moriah Temple Baptist Church in South Philadelphia, replaces J. Whyatt Mondesire, who was recently suspended by the national NAACP along with three officers who accused him of mishandling the group's finances.
According to the Rev. Gill Ford, the national NAACP's unit compliance director, Fitchett will take over with a slate of new officers: Rodney Muhammad, first vice president; Rahim Islam, second vice president; Jennifer Whitfield, third vice president; and Shirley Jordan II, assistant secretary. The state NAACP also has a new president: Dwayne Jackson.
The leadership shake-up, which happened last week and was first reported by the Philadelphia Tri, occurred after months of criticism of Mondesire from the Rev. Elisha Morris, restaurateur Sid Booker and former political operative Donald "Ducky" Birts - all of whom held leadership roles at the local chapter until they were suspended.
Their questions centered on why two checks that were made out to the NAACP were cashed by Next Generation Community Development Corp., a defunct nonprofit that Mondesire allegedly controlled.
Mondesire avoided reporters for much of the controversy but broke his silence to the Daily News a week ago, telling columnist Stu Bykofsky that the accusers had a personal vendetta against him and that the money was to end up in NAACP coffers.
The nonprofit, he has said, was set up to facilitate NAACP business, not steal money from it.
Fitchett, who did not respond to a request for comment, is not expected to join in on the criticism of Mondesire.
In 1998, when Mondesire was re-elected as president for the first time, Fitchett told the Daily News that Mondesire was the "best thing to happen to the NAACP since Cecil B. Moore."
The Tribune reported that Mondesire's trio of antagonists, who have said they resigned from their posts on the advice of their lawyer and were not forced out, will appeal Fitchett's selection as president.
Booker yesterday declined to comment, and attempts to reach Birts and Morris were unsuccessful.
Mondesire yesterday deferred comment to the national office.