The Baltimore Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) seems to be in a chaotic state, after this week’s departure of long time president, Tessa Hill-Aston. The chapter’s regularly scheduled meeting this week was chaired by first vice president, Ronald Flamer, who took the reins after Hill’s mysterious departure.
During the meeting, Jonathan McKinney, NAACP Region Seven field director, reported to branch members that Hill-Aston, along with the secretary and treasurer of the local chapter were removed by the National Board. Hill-Aston was embroiled in disputes with local chapter membership over the past year that intensified after the NAACP National Conventions 108th Annual Meeting hosted by the Baltimore City Chapter in July.
McKinney was contacted after the meeting and did not deny the statement but told the AFRO that his comments were for chapter members only. NAACP local chapter meetings are generally open to the public.
“I’m an NAACP lover and I gave a good portion of my life to serve in the NAACP and it hurts me to know that things are not well. I want to do anything that I can to be of any help,” said Marvin “Doc” Cheatham, past Baltimore NAACP president and current Maryland State NAACP Political Action chair.
McKinney and other national staff explained that local branch operations would be supported by the Maryland State Conference. State Conference President Ronald Stansbury did not return repeated calls for comment.
NAACP national communications director, Malik Russell said “We’re involved in an internal process at the moment and unable to comment,” when asked for clarification on Hill’s departure.
WFBR radio talk show host Darren Muhammed, has questioned Hill-Aston’s leadership for years and wants answers regarding her sudden departure. “The question is why, and is her forced resignation tied to the missing money from the NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner for years along with her husband Joe as the Treasurer,” Muhammad stated recently on the local chapter’s Facebook page.
Hill-Aston won a contentious re-election campaign last fall against Rev. Cortley D. Witherspoon, a Baltimore community activist. The race yielded the highest turnout for the Baltimore Branch in recent history according to organization officials. Several of Witherspoon’s allies were elected to the board.
“This is a golden opportunity for the Baltimore City Branch to install a leader who has the courage of conviction and the real independence to do this work,” said Kim Truehart who organized the Baltimore Branch’s Women in the NAACP for two years.
“They need to look at all aspects of the branch and revive it. That will take some energy and fresh thinking, Truehart said.
The AFRO reached out to Hill-Aston for comment and she did not reply before AFRO press time.