Former Catawba County community leader named president of NC NAACP

Special to the o-n-e

The N.C. NAACP elected a former Hickory community leader, Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, as the new president of their organization last weekend to touts, “I’m woke, and I ain’t skerd,” He let advocates and adversaries alike know that just because Dr. William J. Barber II has finished his 12-year tenure as leader, it doesn’t mean the state’s oldest civil rights organization will cease it’s aggressive battle for freedom, justice and equality. Spearman lived in Hickory from 2005 - 2014. He was well known for his activism and perception that Hickory's culture was one of "gentile apartheid" He was the pastor of Clinton Tabernacle AME Zion Church, served for two years as the president of the Hickory Branch NAACP, and three years on the Hickory School Board where he focused on the achievement gap of minority students.     
“If we’re going to be a justice organization, we’re going to be a justice organization,”Spearman, said to applause in his acceptance speech at the 74th annual convention of the NC NAACP in Raleigh. 
“We’ve got work to do, and it’s time to roll up our sleeves and do the work fighting the real adversaries and enemy.”
Dr.. Spearman, who is also senior pastor of St. Phillip’s A.M.E. Zion Church in Greensboro, and president of the N.C. Council of Churches, thanked Dr. Barber for his leadership, calling the president emeritus, “ my predecessor, my friend and my mentor.”
“And thank you to the N.C. NAACP for your vote, [and] your overwhelming support of me to serve as your state conference of branches president.”
Dr. Spearman, the N.C. NAACP’s third vice president for the past six years, hailed his opponent, Rev. Dr. Portia Rochelle, longtime president of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP.
When he gave his acceptance remarks at the Freedom Fund Banquet, Rev. Spearman embraced Rev. Rochelle onstage, and remarked with pride how they both ran clean campaigns to win. However, Spearman also took time to publicly chastise, though not by name, several N.C. NAACP members who apparently worked behind the scenes to undermine the two candidates.
“There are some of us who are in here tonight, who did their best to divide us, and cause a whole lot of hatred to permeate the N.C. NAACP,” Rev. Spearman admonished. “And I’m here to tell you all that I will not stand for that on my watch! You know who you are, and I want you to know that I know who you are too!”
The hundreds in attendance at the banquet wildly applauded.
Prior to the election, Dr. Spearman vowed that he will continue down the path Dr. Barber set in terms of challenging  the state legislature over what he sees are repressive policies hurting the poor and communities of color.