I’m going to hurt some feelings with this editorial, but some things just have to be said, and since no one else is going to say them, I will.
In July of 2012, a group of Wichita activists began protesting a spike in police shootings. In roughly one year, the Wichita Police Department shot and killed five people, three of whom were black, one of whom was white, and one who was Native American.
Being somewhat naive, I assumed that the local NAACP chapter would be a strong ally as we sought justice for the families of those slain by the department. What I did not initially realize was that the local NAACP President at that time was Wichita City Council member Lavonta Williams.
So, the head of the Wichita NAACP was on the City Council that we were protesting. Clearly, helping us was a conflict of interest, and no help was given.
The protests continued, and eventually, Kenya Cox became the next president of the Wichita NAACP. Cox is a registered Republican who worked for Todd Tiahrt and Mike Pompeo, helping both politicians get elected to the United States Congress. Neither Tiahrt nor Pompeo, both Republicans, have any support to speak of within the black community, or any other community of color, for that matter.
Cox has run against Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau multiple times, always losing by large margins. Faust-Goudeau is extremely active in the community and has always fought for the issues that the NAACP is supposed to be fighting for, yet Cox continually attempts to unseat her.
After her last failed bid at unseating Senator Faust-Goudeau, Cox was appointed by Governor Sam Brownback to a position at the Department for Children and Families in Sedgwick County, as an assistant regional director for community service.
Over the past year or so, there have been multiple protests outside DCF, with families begging for help, and Cox has offered nothing in the way of assistance nor advocacy to these families.
Most recently, today, Cox was appointed, again by Governor Brownback, to the position of executive director of the African American Affairs Commission.
As president of the NAACP, Cox offered no assistance to the families of those shot by the police, and only acknowledged the issue of police shootings once Ferguson became national news and the Wichita media started talking about it. Then, Cox, and others, were suddenly available for press conferences, but still, no assistance has been offered to the families of police shooting victims, nor anyone else dealing with police issues in Wichita.
I made this Facebook post, knowing the responses that I would I receive from my friends in the black community:
Fortunately, there are people in this community who are fighting for civil rights. Djuan Wash and Reuben Eckels with Sunflower Community Action, Mary Dean, with Justice Advocate, Juanita Blackmon, with Justice Keepers, Brandon Johnson, with CORE, Representative Gail Finney, Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau, and Sheila Officer, with the Racial Profiling Advisory Board, and many others, are all on the front lines, ready to help people with the issues that the NAACP will not.
One of the reasons the Wichita NAACP has failed the community is due to a lack of membership. However, that membership does not come without work. The NAACP in this community can grow and be strong, if it starts taking on the issues that are harming people in Wichita. You don’t get the members and then help people, you help people, then you get the members.
My purpose in writing this is not to personally attack anyone, or the NAACP. Kenya Cox and Lavonta Williams are fine people, but they are not fighting on the front lines and the NAACP needs to step up and help this community. I have held my tongue on this issue for several years now, hoping that someone would bring it up, but then I realized that I was someone.
I expect that I will catch a lot of flak for writing this. Certain people will claim that I am an outsider (code for white boy) attempting to divide the black community. If you really believe that, by all means, contact my critics when you need help. When they ignore you, contact the people I have listed above, and they will do everything in their power to help you, because that is what they do.