Baltimore’s Democratic nominee for mayor, Brandon Scott, on Tuesday urged the NAACP to reconsider its planned move to Washington, D.C., given the organization’s seasoned history in the city.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People announced this week it was preparing to move its national headquarters from Baltimore after more than 30 years.
Scott said he was disappointed with the decision by the nation’s oldest civil rights group. He said he reached out to NAACP President Derrick Johnson to ask him to talk about the announcement.
NAACP should build upon its work from its longtime home in Baltimore, Scott said, “not run away from our history.”
“We are in the midst of the largest civil rights call to action that our country has seen in a generation,” said Scott, who faces Republican nominee Shannon Wright in November.
“Baltimore and the NAACP alike are integral pieces of Black history that should remain together and continue to break down barriers, cultivate the impossible, and represent justice, equality and equity for all.”
Baltimore has cultivated some of the most influential civil rights leaders in American history, Scott said: Thurgood Marshall, the first U.S. Supreme Court justice who was Black; Juanita Jackson Mitchell, the first Black woman to practice law in Maryland, and Parren Mitchell, Maryland’s first Black congressman.
“This city has been on the front lines in the fight for justice and equality for people of color for generations,” Scott said. And he NAACP’s history “runs deep in Baltimore,” where it “fought for civil rights for Black people during some of the most turbulent times this country has seen over the last 30 years.”
Scott also noted that two of the NAACP’s recent past presidents are from Baltimore: Democratic U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume and Ben Jealous, former Democratic nominee for governor.
The plan is for NAACP to move into the Frank D. Reeves Center of Municipal Affairs in Washington, according to a letter of intent signed by District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser. The center is home to other government agencies and is set to undergo new development to make it a transit-oriented, mixed-use space.
Johnson said Washington sits at the country’s “epicenter of change.” Moving to Washington would allow the organization to “to be even more proactive in serving the Black community, and confronting the serious challenges facing the nation,” Johnson said.
The move was apparently envisioned for three years, although the NAACP only four months ago relocated from Northwest Baltimore to the Wells Fargo Tower in downtown Baltimore.
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The NAACP came to Baltimore in 1986 from New York City.