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
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
football
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: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all