Irvington NAACP to host annual Freedom Funds Banquet fundraiser

Freeholder Lebby Jones will be one of the people honored at the Irvington NAACP’s annual Freedom Fund Banquet fundraiser on Friday, Oct. 5, at 7 p.m., at B.F. Johnson Banquet Center in Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark.

IRVINGTON, NJ — The Irvington NAACP will host its annual Freedom Fund Banquet fundraiser on Friday Oct. 5, at 7 p.m. at B.F. Johnson Banquet Center in Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark.

“Tickets are $75, which covers the dinner and membership of the Irvington branch of the NAACP,” said Irvington NAACP President Merrick Harris on Sunday, Sept. 23. “We are honoring Freeholder Lebby C Jones, Detective Sgt. Sheyla Marquez-Zepeda, the Rev. Jerry Smith, Shabazz High School football coach Darnell Grant, Hillside High School coach Barris Grant and track and field star Jamir Brown.”

Jones said she feels proud and humbled to be honored by the Irvington NAACP.

“I come out of the civil rights movement,” said Jones on Monday, Sept. 24. “I don’t need the recognition, because I feel good about myself, but it is nice to be recognized for the hard work and dedication that I have put in, serving my town and my community over the years. God has been very good to me. I have had a good life.”

Harris said the fundraiser will mark the start of a busy winter schedule for the Irvington branch of the national civil rights organization.

“At our Nov. 1 meeting, we have our election for branch officers,” said Harris. “You must be branch member, as of April 2018, in order to participate in the election or run for an office. You have to submit a request for what office you want to be considered. If you renewed your membership online and did not pick Irvington as your branch, you would be an at-large member of the national office. You would not be eligible to run for an office in the Irvington branch.”

Harris said he wanted to set the record straight about the requirements to run for elected office in the Irvington NAACP, in order to avoid the confusion that resulted from the last branch election in 2014, when some members who were ineligible to vote or run for office participated in an election that later was voided after several ineligible members won. Another round of elections later took place, in accordance with NAACP guidelines and standards.

But that was small consolation for the branch members who thought they had won the first election, including Irvington Board of Education member Ron Brown. Four years ago, Brown thought he should be the new Irvington NAACP president, replacing outgoing President Kathleen Witcher.

Harris and others said Brown was wrong and that they have a letter from the National NAACP office in Maryland to back them up.

Harris said that Brown, “was nominated, but there was a question of his membership and we found out that his membership was with the national office and not with our local branch, because we didn’t have a record of him being a member of our branch.”

Harris said, “In order to be qualified to be nominated for any executive position in the NAACP, you needed to be a good standing member within your local branch.” He said it was correct to challenge Brown’s right to be nominated and to run for president during the election in December 2014, because he was not eligible to run for office yet. The bottom line was that Brown and his supporters “weren’t members of a local branch,” Harris said.

Janice Morrell, a resident of Orange who is also a member of several local NAACP branches, including the South Orange-Maplewood NAACP, Newark NAACP and the Irvington NAACP, also agreed that Brown was not eligible to be nominated for local branch president in December 2014, let alone run for that office, based on the organization’s bylaws.

“I didn’t monitor the Irvington branch election officially, because I don’t do that anymore, but that was done according to the Hoyle Rule; it had the national’s approval,” Morrell said on Tuesday, Feb. 10. “You have to be a member a certain number of days before the election, before your name can be placed in nomination. The election manual details how many months you must have been a member, in order to be a nominee, and how long you must have been a member, in order to vote. The individuals in question did not meet the requirement. And that was vetted by the national office.”