After serving on the executive committee of the Pittsburgh Unit of the NAACP for three consecutive terms, 1st Vice President Constance Parker has decided to run for president of the local branch in the upcoming election. Parker’s decision to run comes as a result of current president M. Gayle Moss’ decision to step down after eight years as president.
“I’ve been a part of the NAACP for many years. I would not have made a decision to run if Ms. Moss had not chosen to step down. I chose to come forward,” Parker said. “I am a fighter, a very strong fighter and I stand for things.”
Throughout her time with the NAACP, Parkers has been a leading voice of opposition against police brutality, cuts to education, and most recently voter ID legislation. She said the top three issues she would like to address if elected president are education, health and employment.
“Those issues have affected me personally and the community around me,” Parker said. “I say to people, and I’ve been saying it for years, I would say wake up everybody. Where are you and where have you been with the things that have been going on? You can sit in the house, but where are you in addressing these issues.”
Among her suggestions for effecting change were for African-Americans to practice selective buying to ensure their money goes toward helping the Black community. She also advocated for holding the region’s elected officials accountable.
“If you want a movement and you want to see this area change, a vote for me means you have to get up and work,” Parker said. “There are issues so great you can start any place. I would like to come out very strong. As a civil rights organization, the way you get into that picture is the people we elected have to be held accountable and then the people in the community have to be accountable.”
As a 25-year NAACP veteran, Parker led the NAACP’s initiative to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the shooting of an East Liberty teenager by an Allegheny County sheriff’s deputy in June. Parker drew parallels between the death of the Black 19 year-old who was carrying a pellet gun and the shooting deaths of three police officers in Stanton Heights, where the White perpetrator was unharmed.
“If I am so blessed and fortunate to take this seat, it will be seen and heard. I don’t have an allegiance to no one but God almighty,” Parker said. “In Pennsylvania, and I know people don’t like to hear it, I just see it as a racist area. Especially in terms of jobs and education. “
Parker joined Port Authority of Allegheny Board of Directors in April 2012. She is currently the community relations coordinator for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s District 11. She previously hosted the Sheridan Broadcast Radio show “NAACP Issues” for 13 years.
Parker is a member of the Homewood AMEZ Church, where she is an ordained deaconess and a member of the Home Mission and Oversees Missionary Society of the AMEZ Church, as well as president of the Senior Usher Board and member of the Annie L. Anderson Missionary Society.
“We have to be able to be a part of and inclusive of things. It’s we and us. It’s going to take all of us to get together. We need a movement,” Parker said. “Our biggest failure is no plans. I want to get a structure of a plan. I don’t have all the answers, but I want to bring people to the table to make a plan.”
The election will be held Nov. 13 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Hill House Association. For more information, call 412- 471-1024.