The NAACP decided to keep its national headquarters in Baltimore, as the nation's oldest civil rights organization undergoes a local leadership changeover with the resignation of prominent activist Marvin L. "Doc" Cheatham. The NAACP's national board passed on potential moves to Washington, Montgomery County and other sites in downtown Baltimore — and instead chose to stay in the Seton Business Park in Northwest Baltimore, officials with the Baltimore Development Corp., the city's quasi-public development arm, announced in August. Meanwhile, Cheatham stepped down as president of the city chapter after nearly six years at the helm to pursue elective office. Ellis L. Staten Jr., the chapter's first vice president, would serve as interim president until branch elections in November. Cheatham, 60, an outspoken, highly visible leader, said he resigned in July so he could focus on a run this fall for the Democratic State Central Committee. Cheatham said his years at the helm of the city NAACP, a volunteer position, were grueling but rewarding. "It's a very tough unpaid job," he said. "When people had problems, they would come to us before they even came to their ministers." Staten said that Cheatham's departure from the city branch would not mean a change in vision, goals or strategy. "We'll be just as visible as we were when Doc Cheatham was around," he said. The national NAACP decided this summer to call off its search for a new headquarters, BDC president M. Jay Brodie and others said at a board meeting. The decision keeps about 80 NAACP employees in the city and means that Baltimore retains a close tie to the civil rights organization, which marked its 100th anniversary last year.
Baltimore Sun photo by Robert K. Hamilton