Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Interim Leader Seeking to Lift Spirits of Beleaguered NAACP

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Interim Leader Seeking to Lift Spirits of Beleaguered NAACP

Article excerpt

EARL THEODORE SHINHOSTER may turn out to be just the elixir that the ailing NAACP needs.

Shinhoster, national field director of the country's oldest civil rights organization, was selected by its board of directors as interim administrator, replacing the Rev. Benjamin Chavis. The board fired Chavis Saturday night after the news broke that he engineered an agreement last year that committed $334,400 in NAACP funds to settle a sex discrimination complaint against him. The commitment had been made without the board's knowledge.

The firing of Chavis touched off howls of protest among the young, to whom he had reached out.

But Shinhoster insisted in a news conference Monday that the organization would continue to focus on young people and the disaffected.

Saying that the organization was "stepping up and moving forward," Shinhoster said the NAACP is "accepting the responsibility and the challenge that has been presented to us."

He announced a bill of particulars for the NAACP, which included a special focus on organizing and supporting youth and college chapters nationwide.

Other plans include talking to each of the association's employees by week's end to get their thoughts on the direction it should take, placing emphasis on economic and community development, and renewing its opposition to challenges of redistricting that allowed a record 40 black members of congress to be elected two years ago.

To deal with the group's financial problems, Shinhoster called on all 675,000 members nationwide to begin a 30-day membership campaign. He also set an ambitious goal of 1 million members by the end of the year.

Like Chavis, Shinhoster is in his 40s. His dedication to the association dates back nearly three decades, when he was president of an NAACP Youth Council in Savannah, Ga. He also served as a regional director of the NAACP from the Southeast from 1978 until earlier this year.

Shinhoster, who could hold the interim post for as long as a year while the civil rights group conducts a national search for executive director, was a finalist for the position last year. …

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