Disgraced black rights boss shown the door

THE UNITED STATES' oldest, largest and most prestigious civil rights organisation was struggling to regroup yesterday after the bitterly divisive sacking of its director of 17 months for financial mismanagement, and problems arising from a sexual harassment suit in which he is embroiled.

After a 10-hour closed door debate on Saturday at their Baltimore headquarters, the 64-strong board of the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, voted 'overwhelmingly' to remove Benjamin Chavis. But some of his supporters wept at the decision, while others were reported to have tried to storm the board's meeting room as word of the decision leaked out.

Mr Chavis claimed afterwards he was a victim of a 'lynching' mounted by 'forces outside the African-American community and a small number of NAACP officials' who opposed his attempts to revitalise the 90-year-old body, once the most influential mouthpiece of black America.

And indeed, many of the NAACP old guard have been dismayed at Mr Chavis overtures to some of the most controversial elements in the black community, including inner-city gang leaders, rap stars, and the radical Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. But Mr Chavis argued that only thus could the organisation regain its authority among the young. Despite his departure, a second NAACP-sponsored black summit, with invitees including Mr Farrakhan, is due this week to agree a strategy to tackle the crime, poverty and despair affecting large swathes of the black community.

His downfall, however, was precipitated by an abrupt deterioration in NAACP finances. A surplus of dollars 600,000 ( pounds 389,000) has turned into a deficit of dollars 3m, and key donors were withholding contributions pending clarification. Giving extra ammunition to Mr Chavis' foes have been embarrassing sexual allegations against him.

One woman last week withdrew claims she had been sexually harassed by Mr Chavis, saying reports to that effect had been a 'misunderstanding'. But the most damaging charges came from a former aide, Mary Stansel, who has sued Mr Chavis, alleging that he backed out of a dollars 332,000 private settlement of sexual discrimination complaints she brought when she was dismissed last year.

The NAACP board was shocked that they had not been informed of the arrangement, despite the fact that the money was to be paid from its own funds. The sum of dollars 82,000 was paid, but Ms Stansel alleges that Mr Chavis reneged on a commitment to pay dollars 250,000 after he failed to find her a suitable new job as he had promised. Mr Chavis denies any wrongdoing, and is countersuing.

The organisation has been placed under interim management until a new director is named, probably in about two months.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss