The Rev. Kevin Chandler of South Boston, senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in South Boston, is no longer the president of the Virginia State Conference NAACP, even though on Wednesday he said he’s still awaiting official notification.
Gloria Sweet-Love, president of the Tennessee State Conference of the NAACP, was appointed by the National Chapter to oversee restructuring of internal management. She made the announcement of the change in leadership on Saturday during an executive committee meeting.
Robert Barnette of Hanover County was appointed to serve as president.
Barnette, who was previously vice-president of the Virginia State Conference NAACP, had submitted his candidacy for president of the organization.
Chandler’s two-year term would have been up on Oct. 31, and he was not seeking re-election.
Upon learning of his ouster, Chandler said he was “shocked” by the way he was removed from his position.
He first found out when another reporter contacted him.
Chandler said he was unable to attend the state NAACP meeting Saturday, adding, “This was the first meeting I had missed in six years.”
In addition to Chandler, he said the political action chair and the treasurer were removed from their state positions as well.
Chandler believes his call for the governor’s resignation may have had something to do with the reason he is no longer state NAACP president.
“The call for the governor to resign had not changed. Others felt otherwise, and thought maybe we should back off,” said Chandler.
In February, Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam confirmed he was in a yearbook photo showing one person dressed in blackface and another in the KKK’s signature hood and robe.
At that time, Chandler was quoted as saying, “We demand, not ask, that Governor Ralph Northam resign.”
Chandler told WDBJ7 the governor apologized to him for the photo, but he said, “It’s not an apology we can accept.”
On Thursday, Barnette said the executive committee had agreed on that stance and had not changed their position on the matter.
“It was in his purview to push that issue,” said Barnette.
An NAACP press release stated Sweet-Love “is charged to bring the governance and management of the Virginia State Conference NAACP in alignment with the current rules and procedures that govern the National Board of Directors.”
It also stated, “Ms. Sweet-Love has found that the Virginia State Conference is operating on firm financial footing and with a sound office management structure. She is assisting with preparations for the upcoming state convention where amended bylaws will be presented, and election of new officers will be conducted.”
Attempts to reach Sweet-Love for further information were unsuccessful as of press time Thursday.
Chandler said it “seemed as if we (the Virginia State Conference NAACP) were headed in the right direction.”
He said the state NAACP has been seeking an individual to serve as executive director and were working on the bylaws that had not been updated since 2011.
The Virginia State Conference NAACP has not had an executive director since Jack Gravely resigned as its interim head in June 2016. The organization’s last permanent executive director was King Salim Khalfani.
“Hopefully that work will continue,” said Chandler, who plans to continue to be an active member of the NAACP.
The South Boston resident and former president of the South Boston/Halifax County NAACP, was elected to serve a two-year term as president of the Virginia State Conference NAACP in November 2017 at the group’s 82nd Annual Convention in Richmond.
At that time, Chandler defeated Fairfax County resident Shirley Ginwright to become president of the state NAACP.
Chandler has previously served as VSC NAACP vice-president and as a member of the VSC NAACP executive committee.
At the time of his election, Chandler listed some of the more significant VSC NAACP goals as follows:
• Significantly enhancing statewide NAACP voter registration and GOTV goals and strategies;
• Increasing NAACP membership by providing additional support to the 80 NAACP branches;
• Supporting Virginia’s African American families in their pursuit of the “American Dream” regarding protection of families, home ownership, employment opportunities, career advancement, education for their children and the other accoutrements afforded to citizens;
• Increasing direct advocacy by local NAACP leaders and branch members statewide in a way that addresses many challenges faced by African American families and other people of color;
• Enhancing legislative advocacy during upcoming Virginia General Assembly sessions with significant emphasis on NAACP Lobby Day; and
• Fighting injustices of today’s society that impact so many African American families to include mass incarceration of many families, churches and communities; the school to prison pipeline; disparate treatment of students with disabilities in so many schools in Virginia; and the disparate sentencing and treatment by Virginia courts, law enforcement and in correctional facilities.