ATHENS, AL (WAFF) - The man at the helm of the Alabama NAACP has been named to the national board of directors!
Benard Simelton is excited and proud to have a new title and to serve on the national level of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Simelton is president of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP and this past weekend, he was elected to the national board of directors at their annual meeting in New York City.
"We have been looking forward to this for a number of years and Alabama was one of the few states in the southeast region that does not have a born member so it's great that this opportunity came available and that we had the support of board members," he said. "When my name was presented this weekend, it was an unanimous vote to elect me to the board of directors."
At the state headquarters in Athens on Monday, he spoke about his new role and the things he looks to tackle.
"It means that people are looking at Alabama and some of the recent things that we've done. We're finally getting the respect that Alabama so much deserves. For a number of years, our numbers were low so we got our numbers up and we are participating in a lot of different events. People are being to recognize that Alabama needs to take its rightful place in the Civil Rights Movement," Simelton stated.
Board members recognized Simelton for his tenacity and dedication, as well as his work to help boost voter turnout during the special senate election back in December.
"The Secretary of State was predicting somewhere around 20% and with the African American turnout it was about 35% and overall it was 40% turnout so that's directly attributable to the efforts of the NAACP here in Alabama," he added.
Simelton says he is looking to use his new position to continue to shine light on issues in Alabama, including the education system, criminal justice system, and economic opportunities for minorities
"We will continue to work to increase minority awareness of opportunities that are out there to improve upon their business," he said. "We're also looking at increasing our membership but also helping to improve our membership process with our national office where we will get a quicker turnaround on our membership cards."
While serving on the national board, Simelton will also continue to serve as president of the Alabama NAACP. He is one of 64 board members.
"We'll be able to take directly our concerns to the board to the directors and we won't have to go through some other board member. People can come to me and we can things right to the board," he stated. "Now it's up to us to prove to our board members that we deserve to be on the board of directors for the national NAACP and I'm looking forward to working with the branches throughout the state."
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