Statement to the Eugene-Springfield, NAACP Branch #1119 Members:
Eugene-Springfield, December 2, 2021— Earlier this week, the Executive Committee for Eugene-Springfield’s NAACP Unit #1119 voted and unanimously agreed to an administrative restructuring of our branch operations. As a result of this decision, Eric Richardson no longer serves as the unit’s Executive Director, effective Tuesday, November 30, 2021. Our decision included an in-depth, comprehensive and holistic review of the current Executive Director position, its role and responsibilities, and the requisite skills necessary to facilitate greater transparency and accountability as we collaborate with our community partners on important initiatives that serve our rapidly expanding and diversifying community. This review spanned a period of several months, with ongoing conversations with the former Executive Director, and included review of the requisite skills and other criteria needed to effectively execute the position in the future.
The Executive Committee understands that this news has generated dialog and concern within our membership and community-at-large. Please know that decisions like this involve in-depth, ongoing review and discussion not only within the Executive Board, but also include input and feedback from our community partners and staff. Moreover, there have been alleged accusations that the Executive Committee’s decision was racially biased. We wholly and emphatically deny this claim as it stands without merit or truth. The current members of this Executive Board have served for many years as professional peers with Eric and have personal, long-standing relationships with him and his family. Our current White executive board members ran unopposed over many terms, despite their constant petitioning and invitation for diverse community member participation in elections, and at all position levels of the branch. Their service in these roles is without financial gain or any other form of compensation. And their presence in these roles is because of their unwavering commitment to community, racial, and social justice across its membership. To imply otherwise is derogatory and hurtful to them, our organization and community, and is counter to the long-standing mission and values of the NAACP from its inception.
To be clear, we know that the lived experiences of minoritized populations create very real fears and distrust of organizational entities with racially homogeneous leadership. However, allyship across race, gender, sexual orientation and all other held identities is the bedrock of the NAACP’s 112-year foundation, and is what distinguishes it as our nation’s pre-eminent civil rights organization. We must challenge ourselves to always adhere to truth – a standard that these accusations fall far short of.
Furthermore, this decision was not made abruptly, nor without extensive conversations and input. While Mr. Richardson’s departure is sudden, the executive committee weighed this approach against all other options, and believe it to be the measure that will best position the organization’s success moving forward. We cannot, nor will we comment on internal personnel discussions or decisions that impact our employees or contracted workers. Instead, we take a very deliberate, conscientious, and holistic view of what is required to execute on our commitment and responsibilities to our community partners, our branch members, and the needs of our community at large.
In this regard, we ask those in the community with questions or concerns, to please share them with our Branch President, Miles Pendleton (Email: email@example.com), as the unit is committed to supporting our community throughout this period of transition. As with any organization, public or private, change is inevitable, especially when faced with unanticipated challenges like a public health pandemic, where flexibility and agility to respond to community needs is pressing.
Clearly stated, our Eugene-Springfield Branch’s focus is to ensure that we do not waiver from our mission, nor its corresponding work in the service of our community. We will continue to execute on our outstanding obligations and commitments, and we will remain steadfast in our pursuit of equity and justice for those historically marginalized and underserved. Towards this aim, we ask that those individuals and entities who have been in contact with the organization surrounding upcoming events, initiatives, and other ongoing collaboration, to please reach out to Miles Pendleton so that we continue our engagement and work together with minimal disruption. Together, we will move forward for community, by community and with community.
Eugene-Springfield Unit #1119 Executive Committee