NEW YORK – The NAACP Board of Directors unanimously elected Roslyn Brock as its new chairman during its annual meeting in New York on February 20.

Brock, 44, of Elkridge, Md., became the fourth woman and the youngest person to assume the helm of the 100-year-old civil rights organization.

“It is a very humbling moment for me. Sixty-three civil rights giants from across this nation voted to entrust into our hands the civil rights movement into the next generation,” Brock said at a press conference. Also in attendance were former chairpersons Julian Bond and Myrlie Evers-Williams; new Vice Chairman Leon Russell; NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous and New York State Conference President Hazel Dukes.

Brock and Jealous—who at 35 became the youngest to hold his position—represent a welcome infusion of young leadership into the organization, several speakers said.

“It’s a proud moment for us,” said Hazel Duke, New York State Conference president. “Today we are changing the guard. We’re going into the second century.”

Jealous said they are equal to the task.

“This is a moment for the history books,” he said. “We stand here at the beginning of our second century. And the children of the dream—those who were born as and after the great civil rights victories were won—are taking over the reins of this association so that our children…can again have hope that the country that they will inherit in 10 to 20 years will be better off than this country is right now.”

Brock said she is prepared to tailor the mission of the NAACP to the needs of today and to bring in a new generation of young activists.

“As we embark on this second century, the NAACP is older, yet wiser; we’re embattled but proven; we’re experienced and still ready. The future is calling us and the NAACP will answer,” she said.

Health care reform may be a chief concern for the new chairwoman, who is a vice president at Bon Secours Health Care in Marriotsville, Md., and its chief spokeswoman on government relations, advocacy and public policy.

Brock earned a master’s degree in health services administration from George Washington University, an MBA from Northwestern University and a master’s of divinity degree from Virginia Union University.

She began her stint with the NAACP 25 years ago, serving as a youth board member and Youth and College Division state conference president, among other roles.

“I leave this position with both regret and relief. Regret because it’s a great honor to serve in this position—I think of all the things I’ve done in life this is the one of which I am most proud,” outgoing chairman Julian Bond said. “And relief because I can hand the reins of the organization over to a dynamic young woman who is NAACP-born and bred.”

 

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO