THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1994, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Monday, August 22, 1994 TAG: 9408220062 SECTION: FRONT PAGE: A8 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: BY STEVEN A. HOLMES, THE NEW YORK TIMES DATELINE: BALTIMORE LENGTH: Medium: 67 lines
As the NAACP sought to put its financial and administrative house in order after the abrupt dismissal Saturday night of its executive director, Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., the ousted leader Sunday called his dismissal a ``crucifixion'' and hinted he might sue the civil rights organization.
Appearing at a Baltimore church Sunday with Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, and several other leaders of militant black groups, Chavis sounded alternately conciliatory and angry over the decision of the board to end his contract after a stormy 16-month tenure. Using religious metaphors, Chavis suggested that he intends to remain active in the civil rights struggle.
``Now there's been a crucifixion,'' Chavis said as he sat in a second-floor community room at the Bethel A.M.E. Church in Baltimore with his wife, Martha, and Farrakhan at his side. ``But today we celebrate the resurrection.''
Earlier in the day, the man whom the board selected to replace Chavis on a temporary basis, Earl Shinhoster, the organization's national field secretary, met with a special committee of the board to establish a short-term plan for handling the operations of the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization.
``What I am trying to do is get all the parameters together, and resolve them in my own mind,'' Shinhoster said before the meeting.
Shinhoster was chosen Saturday night after the board debated for more than eight hours and voted overwhelmingly to dismiss Chavis for conduct that was ``inimical'' to the best interests of the National Association for the Advancementof Colored People.
``The decision was not easy,'' said Dr. William F. Gibson, the board chairman, in announcing it Saturday night. ``Nor was it pleasant.''
The push to oust Chavis was touched off by his decision to settle for up to $332,400 a breach-of-contract suit by a former employee who said she had been sexually harassed and had suffered sex discrimination by Chavis. But Gibson said Chavis was removed because of ``an accumulation of things'' that occurred during his tenure.
Chavis had been criticized for trying to ally the organization with Farrakhan, a move that some NAACP officials took as a sign that Chavis was moving the 85-year-old mainstream organization into a separatist posture.
Gibson and other board members had hoped Chavis would go quietly. Indeed, a draft resolution that said he was being dismissed for conduct that ``had damaged the integrity'' of the organization was shelved as being too harsh.
Instead, the board voted to dismiss him for actions that were ``inimical'' to the organization and invited him to meet with board representatives to work out a severance agreement.
Nonetheless, in an interview on the NBC program ``Sunday Today,'' Chavis hinted that he might sue the organization. ``I'm just saying there has to be a period of negotiations between myself and the NAACP,'' Chavis said. ``And it's my prayer that these negotiations would not make it necessary for me or anyone else to sue the NAACP'' He did not elaborate on what grounds he might sue. ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
Benjamin Chavis was fired Saturday by the NAACP board.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE