The past few elections for the Pittsburgh Branch of the NAACP have been relatively quiet. The key reason for this is that members of the executive committee frequently run unopposed, but another major contributing factor is that members are only made aware of election candidates at a nominating meeting and do not receive a list of candidates by mail.
|REV. REGINA RAGIN
However, adding a spark of excitement to this year’s election Nov. 9, NAACP President M. Gayle Moss is being opposed by Rev. Regina Ragin, an NAACP committee member. Ironically, if elected president, Ragin said one of the most important changes she would make is improving the organization’s communication.
“We need to open up better communications with the powers that be. Right now they kind of see us negatively,” Ragin said. “We need to talk to the agencies that are funding services that are servicing our communities to make sure they do what they say they’re going to do in our community.”
The current NAACP president did not respond to requests for comment by the New Pittsburgh Courier. The Courier was not made aware of Ragin’s candidacy until one week prior to the election.
Ragin, who has been an NAACP member for approximately 20 years, is the host of two television shows on the Pittsburgh Community Television channel. She is also an active member on the Pennsylvania state Board of Directors of the NAACP and the founder of When Women Work Ministries, a non-profit organization that helps people find employment.
|M. GAYLE MOSS
While she criticized the organization’s internal communication, Ragin also expressed disapproval of how the NAACP communicates with other community organizations. She also criticized the NAACP’s current system that prohibits members of the executive committee from commenting on issues before they have been cleared by the president.
“Instead of us building a relationship, the relationship is deteriorating. The organization has an unwilling attitude and non-willingness to work with other people. We keep getting ignored on key things,” Ragin said. “We need to make better community linkages. Just like (the Black Political Empowerment Project), B-PEP should be partners with the NAACP, same with the Urban League. We need to get the churches involved; some of the churches have the financial resources.”
In listing her reasons for running, Ragin took aim at Pittsburgh’s most prominent leaders including Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, city council, Pittsburgh Public School District Superintendent Mark Roosevelt and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. On all accounts, she said they had failed to improve living conditions for African-Americans and were instead having a negative impact on Black communities.
“We always used to have an open door policy with the mayor’s office. (The mayor) ran on the fact that he was close to African-Americans. The only thing I know that he’s done for African-Americans is tear down their homes,” Ragin said. “City council is just a rubber stamp to anything that comes along. City council is responsible for some of the negative things that are happening to African-Americans.”
In agreement with the NAACP’s current focus on education reform, Ragin said this would continue to be a key priority if she was elected. She also agreed with the current NAACP administration’s criticism of the superintendent and the several school closings and mergers in Black communities.
“We’ve got to do something about reversing some of the damage that he’s done to our children,” Ragin said. “Money is being spent on everything but our children.”
Nominations for the election were made at a meeting on Oct. 12. All members whose memberships were current as of April 1 were eligible to be nominated for office or as an at large member of the executive committee.