By Cash Michaels –
Deborah Dicks Maxwell, the current, and first woman, president of the NAACP NC, won re-election in a landslide victory during the state conference’s 76th annual convention in Wilmington.
Ms. Maxwell, who was first elected in 2021 when she defeated incumbent NC NAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman amid controversy, defeated challenger Keith Rivers, president of the Pasquotank County Chapter of the NAACP, 73.53% (100 votes) to 26.47% (36 votes) on the last day of the three-day convention.
Rivers was seen as someone reportedly hostile to Maxwell’s leadership of the civil rights conference, as was Charlotte-Mecklenburg Chapter President Rev. Corine Mack, who was defeated by Courtney Patterson for conference First Vice-president, 34.81% (47 votes) to 65.19% (88 votes).
Maxwell and Patterson were elected to two-year terms via the controversial Election Buddy system employed at the convention to elect a new slate of state conference Executive Committee officers. Ms. Maxwell had previously served as president of the New Hanover County NAACP, the host county of this year’s convention.
She told The News and Observer of Raleigh that she “…won a second term despite the earlier rancor by focusing on what’s important—issues such as voting rights, health care, and education.”
“Just working collaboratively with people,” she told The News and Observer. “The cause is the same regardless of who’s at the helm.”
Even though Maxwell surrounded herself with an impressive display of political leadership during the convention, including Gov. Roy Cooper, former Senior Associate State Supreme Justice Mike Morgan, and State Atty. Gen. Josh Stein, her one-term tenure as NAACP NC president is considered by many observers to be unremarkable in terms of its political activism.
There has been no continuation of the coalition-building Moral Monday or “Historic Thousands on Jones Street” demonstrations that marked the previous leadership terms of NC NAACP presidents Rev. William Barber or Rev. Spearman. And Maxwell has said very little in opposition to the regressive policies of the Republican-led NC General Assembly.
Whether her quiet style of civil rights leadership will continue in the face of mounting challenges—such as anti-critical race theory protests in the public schools, or the legislature passing new laws to remove the governor’s appointment powers to the State Board of Elections—remains to be seen, but with the 2024 gubernatorial and presidential election campaign seasons now underway, what role the NAACP NC will play in protecting the right to vote will be closely watched.