Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman Files Defamation Lawsuit Against NAACP Head, NC NAACP President, and Six Others

Lawsuit alleges that Spearman was falsely accused of fiscal malfeasance.

Dr. T. Anthony Spearman
Dr. T. Anthony Spearman
By Cash Michaels –

The former president of the NC NAACP, Rev. T. Anthony Spearman, has filed a blistering 28-page lawsuit against national NAACP President/CEO Derrick Johnson and Chairman Leon W. Russell.

Deborah Dicks Maxwell
Deborah Dicks Maxwell

Also named in the suit are NC NAACP President Deborah Dicks Maxwell, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Chapter President Corrine Mack, and four other officers. The lawsuit accuses the officials of defamation and a civil conspiracy to have Spearman removed as the state NAACP president.

The lawsuit, filed by Greensboro attorney Mark T. Cummings in Guilford County Superior Court, contends that “the Defendants conspired to have Plaintiff (Spearman) removed” because of his support of a victim of sexual harassment, who herself had filed suit against the national organization and her accused harasser. A second reason for his dismissal, according to the suit, was Spearman’s “growing national profile stemming from his many successful and high-profile activities.”

Jazmyne Childs had accused Rev. Curtis Gatewood, a state conference member, of sexual harassment in 2017. Although, according to Spearman, the allegations were confirmed by an external investigation, when Ms. Childs urged Johnson to take action, he ignored her; when Spearman publicly stood with her, he himself became a target for retribution.

In his suit, Spearman accuses Johnson of supporting Gatewood to oppose him for reelection as NC NAACP president in 2019. When Ms. Childs went public, Johnson finally suspended Gatewood’s membership. At that point, according to Spearman, Johnson and the other defendants devised a plan to falsely accuse Spearman of fiscal malfeasance, and put the NC NAACP under the control of a national administrator, Gloria J. Sweet-Love.

Rev. Dr. William Barber, Spearman’s predecessor as state president from 2005-2017, said that charges of misappropriation weren’t possible, because he implemented a two-signature verification system when he took over the state conference in 2005, and that that system remained in place during Rev. Spearman’s tenure. In an interview with this reporter, Barber said that both he and Spearman routinely had the state branch’s books audited, though audits were not a requirement or normal practice of other NAACP branches.

According to Spearman, false allegations of financial malfeasance and personal attacks continued to circulate against him, and the defendants conspired to undermine the NC NAACP election in October 2021. That fall, Maxwell defeated Spearman and became state president, although Spearman contends that Gloria J. Sweet-Love, the national committee member appointed by Johnson to administer the state branch, oversaw an election process that was at odds with the NAACP Constitution and Bylaws.

In his lawsuit, Rev. Spearman accuses Johnson, Sweet-Love, national Board Chairman Russell, and the other defendants of slander and civil conspiracy, and seeks compensatory damages of $25,000.00 from each defendant as well as punitive damages in the same amount. He has requested a jury trial.