ALBANY, Ga. -- Using language closely associated with the Civil Rights movement, local attorney Maurice K. King Jr. aimed his words at an unlikely target: the Georgia Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Last week, the state NAACP cleaned house locally, suspending the memberships of former president William Wright and all officers of the local chapter.
"This is an injustice to Mr. Wright and the officers of the Albany-Dougherty chapter of the NAACP," King said. "This appears to be an attempt to embarrass local members of the NAACP. I am shocked and surprised they (the Georgia NAACP) would mess with local units like this when there is still real fighting to be done."
In a letter to NAACP attorney Anson Asaka dated Oct. 4, King wrote: "I find it astonishing that the NAACP would treat Mr. Wright in this disrespectful manner considering the actions Mr. Wright has taken to advance the rights of black people in Southwest Georgia.
"In fact, I am inclined to believe that even the Tea Party would have treated Mr. Wright better than the NAACP has treated him in regard to this matter."
The roots of the dust-up lie in the state office's fee assessments of local units. The assessments are based on the number of black people in the respective chapters' geographic area instead of actual membership. There are around 90 members on the Albany roll.
The assessment process and resulting non-payment of dues led to friction between the Albany chapter and the state office.
The state NAACP office said the local unit owed $2,460 in past-due assessment fees. After negotiations to reduce the amount failed, the
Albany chapter sent the state office a check for $1,000. The check was deposited and cleared the bank.
King says the state conference's acceptance of the check means the local unit had met its financial obligation.
King's letter said: "I have also enclosed a copy of a letter dated Jan. 20, 2010 to (state NAACP) president Edward O. Dubose where Mr. Wright wrote, 'Therefore the Albany-Dougherty Unit 5194 present(s) a check in the amount of $1,000 as PAYMENT-IN-FULL for the past due assessments ... The Georgia State Conference must not endorse or otherwise cash this check unless the above terms are adhered to.' "
"That letter made it absolutely clear that the check was used to pay the state assessment," King said. "When the check was negotiated (deposited), it served as an accord and satisfaction. Under Georgia law the assessment was paid when the check was deposited."
King went on to say the state conference also violated its own bylaws by removing the local unit's officers under Article X, which sets policy for the expulsion, suspension or removal of members.
"There's not a word in it about assessment fees," King said. "It's clear that the wording of Article X does not support the removal of officers and executive board members in this instance.
"The NAACP preamble states that members should stand against all forms of injustice. Well, an injustice has occurred and we are asking them (the state NAACP) to correct it immediately."