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NAACP president-elect calls for healing

Minister Rodney Muhammad was elected Saturday to head the local group, but a defeated candidate may challenge the election results.

Rodney Muhammad smiles after learning he will become president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP. (RON TARVER / Staff Photographer)
Rodney Muhammad smiles after learning he will become president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP. (RON TARVER / Staff Photographer)Read more

THE DAY AFTER his election Saturday as president of the Philadelphia NAACP branch, Minister Rodney Muhammad said that one of his first goals would be "the healing of our organization."

He said yesterday that he plans to meet with the new board of officers after he is sworn in to office next month to determine how to invigorate the branch, which has been divided by feuds over its finances.

Before he can heal the branch, however, Muhammad, head of Mosque No. 12 in North Philadelphia, first may have to face formal challenges to the election.

The two candidates he defeated - Thomas Logan, a retired local AFL-CIO official, and the Rev. Pamela K. Anderson, a West Philadelphia minister - said they are considering filing appeals to the national office.

In separate interviews yesterday, Logan and Williams told the Daily News that they are troubled that two incumbent officers on Muhammad's slate - secretary Rochelle Bilal and assistant secretary Shirley "Pumpkin" Jordan - took part in the election process by checking the membership credentials of voters.

"They were not supposed to be part of the election committee because they were on the ballot," Logan said yesterday.

He said he had questioned the Rev. Gill Ford, the national NAACP officer in charge of unit branches who was in town to monitor the election, but was told that no one else was available to check voters' eligibility.

Muhammad said the secretary and assistant secretary keep membership records. He suggested that those officers should be appointed rather than elected.

Williams, the other candidate for president, said that if the election committee could not find impartial people to work the election, it should have been postponed.

According to NAACP officials, Muhammad received the largest number of votes cast Saturday when 256 NAACP members came out on a rainy day to vote at the Beech Cos., at Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 15th Street. Voting results were not released.

Muhammad's call for "healing" comes after the national NAACP suspended former chapter president J. Whyatt "Jerry" Mondesire and three board members last April.

The board members have accused Mondesire of depositing checks totaling $300,000 that were donated to the NAACP or the NAACP Next Generation Community Development Corp into a separate CDC bank account that Mondesire controlled.

One check for $10,000 came from Market East Associates, a partner in the proposed casino at 8th and Market streets, which Mondesire publicly supported.

The suspended board members said the NAACP board never voted to support a casino. Mondesire has not responded to requests for comment.

The election took place at Beech Cos. because the nearby NAACP office, at 16th Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue, had been without heat, electricity and water for eight months, members said. The office is still without heat.