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Chandler ousted as state NAACP president

South Boston News
Chandler / August 22, 2019
Kevin Chandler of South Boston has been ousted as president of the Virginia Statewide Conference NAACP, further scrambling the leadership of a state chapter that has gone more than five years without a permanent director.

Chandler, pastor of Trinity Missionary Baptist Church and a six-year member of the Virginia NAACP’s executive committee, said the dismissal came as he was attending a family reunion. The decision was made Saturday at a state organization meeting in Richmond.

“That’s the third meeting I’ve missed in six years, and the one I missed, they decided to remove me,” said Chandler. “Or I should say, the administration decided to remove me.”

The ouster purportedly came at the direction of the national NAACP, which has assumed administrative oversight of the Virginia State Conference. The state organization has lacked a director since Jack Gravely stepped down as interim head in June 2016. Gravely died later that year. The last permanent Virginia director was King Salim Khalfani, who was forced out in 2011.

Chandler said he, a paid staff member and a volunteer helper have upheld the load of maintaining the work of the Virginia NAACP State Conference. The organization has stalled over hiring a full-time director, he said, because members of the executive committee have been unable to agree on the job description, compensation and other issues.

For these reasons and others, “when national stepped in, we welcomed their administration because [the national NAACP] has resources when it comes to hiring individuals,” Chandler said.

The decision to remove Chandler was backed by Gloria J. Sweet-Love, a national NAACP administrator who serves as president of the Tennessee State Conference. In a Tuesday email to Chandler, provided to this newspaper, Sweet-Love wrote, “[P]lease know that I had thoroughly vetted the decision of the change in leadership with the Staff of the National Office and the Chairman of the Board who advised me that I was within my authority … to make the changes needed to get the VSC NAACP back on track to do the ‘Real’ work of the NAACP!”

Sweet-Love faulted Chandler for continuing “to make decisions on your own without the approval of the Executive Committee or the Administrator” and added a “change in leadership is critical to the future success of the VSC NAACP.”

In an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Sweet-Love said members of the Virginia conference “have been faltering for several years and have not hired an executive director,” and “anything that gets in the way of the operation and making sure that people are fighting for civil rights and social justice is a distraction.”

The newly appointed president, Robert Barnette of Hanover County, clarified that Chandler’s dismissal does not involve alleged wrongdoing or improprieties. “It’s more of a procedural thing. We have ways to operate, and national felt like we needed some guidance in making sure we did that,” Barnette told the Times-Dispatch.

Chandler said he concurs with the view that the work of the Virginia NAACP has suffered by not having a director, but he said it has further been hampered by organizational dysfunction — something he said he has worked hard to overcome.

“On a regular basis, I would be in Richmond at least one day a week” tending to NAACP business. Before winning election as president, Chandler served as vice-president of the Virginia organization. His two-year term as president was set to end in October, prior to the November meeting of the full state membership in Richmond.

“That’s one of the pieces that really doesn’t add up,” Chandler said. “We’re only two months away from electing new officers. Things are in place for the convention. Why would they do it now?”

In addition to his ouster, Chandler said the state treasurer and political action committee chairperson have also been removed from office, an action he equated to a “purge.

“The reason or reasons for removing me are so vague, I can’t put my fingers on one thing,” he said.

However, Chandler speculated that the decision could have come as a result of the ongoing stance by the Virginia Statewide Conference NAACP that Gov. Ralph Northam should resign due to the controversy over wearing blackface that surfaced earlier this year. Chandler, who has personally called for Northam to step down, said the NAACP recently launched a statewide “listening tour” to solicit public opinion on whether the Democratic governor should resign. Chandler said the results of the survey will be presented at the November state convention.

“There are some people on the executive committee who don’t think we should take that position,” Chandler said.

He added that the state conference “must get back to doing civil rights work, because there are people who are suffering, people who hurting …. There’s a lot that’s been done over the past two years, but we have some folks on this executive committee who have been involved for years” in the dissension that persists within the organization.

Chandler suggested that a drastic step is needed to right the statewide conference: “We need to start fresh — all 22 people [on the executive committee] need to be replaced and we need to start over. It’s a culture.”

Chandler said he would present that recommendation in the form of a motion at the state conference, which is set to be held at the Short Pump Marriott Nov. 1-3. Although he has been removed as president, Chandler remains a delegate to the convention.

“I’m a life member of the NAACP, so I’m not going anywhere,” he said.

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This is sad news, especially for Southside Virginia, where I know that Kevin Chandler has made a huge difference in our community and been an advocate for equality. He is an honorable & hardworking man and it seems like Northern VA wants control of the NAACP Va Chapter. I personally hope he runs again for state president and wins at the November convention. On a side note, I totally 100% agree with him and many many others across this fine state that Governor Ralph Northam absolutely needs to step down from office immediately for the sake of the Commonwealth. For the record I am Caucasian, an independent voter, and I have ZERO tolerance for racism in government.


What did Northam do that was racist? Im talking about the textbook definition of racism, not the meaning that the left uses


Northum’s stand on abortion or should I say killing (murder) babies after they are born is reason to remove him!!!! He is a disgrace to the Commonwealth!!


Northam has disgraced Virginia and has sealed his place as the morally sorriest Gov. this state has ever had. He’s not a doctor he’s a baby killer. But oh, he doesn’t believe in the death penalty. What a low life.


Any problems started long before Kevin Chandler became president. If it is time for a change Barnette should have also been relieved of his duties. Anything the President did the Vice knew about.

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