The Arlington branch of the NAACP will enter 2019 with a new leadership structure and a commitment to building on recent growth.
“I’m all about community activism – we will go out and do good things,” said Julius Spain Sr., who on Dec. 17 was sworn in to serve as president of the 78-year-old local civil-rights organization.
“We will be influential,” Spain said during the ceremony, held at Walter Reed Community Center. “There is power and there is influence in numbers . . . we’re going to be even more engaged.”
Spain succeeds Karen Nightengale, who served as Arlington NAACP president for four years and is moving into the newly created position of executive director, where she will lead the organization’s reconstituted executive committee.
Nightengale said she was looking back on “four incredibly exciting years” of growth in the NAACP.
“We’re a force to be reckoned with – [and] we have a lot of things on the horizon,” she said.
Bringing back the executive committee, which had been dormant for some years, was a positive, said James Younger, who was elected to serve on it.
“It certainly enhances our capabilities and our impact in the community,” he said.
Officers were sworn in by Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson, who said that while taking an oath wasn’t mandatory for a community organization, “it puts down on paper that pledge and commitment” to serve the members.
Ferguson praised the NAACP for being a partner with county government. “Arlington has been a little ahead of the curve,” he said.
That may not have been the case when the Arlington chapter was founded under the leadership of Ester Cooper in 1940. The community was decidedly more rural and Southern, in many ways, than it would become a few short years later.
Spain said that, even in the current era, the organization remains vigilant on local and state issues ranging from school boundaries to voting rights, and said one of his main goals will be to augment the membership rolls.
“We’re open to anybody,” he said. “We have open arms.”
Also holding leadership roles in 2019 will be Kent Carter (first vice president), Jerusalem Solomon (second vice president), William White Sr. (treasurer), Keshia Tensley (secretary), Rosa Dunkley (assistant secretary) and Tim Dempsey and Jill Caiazzo (executive-committee members).