NAACP president talks about the future

By Page H. Gifford

When speaking with Ben Hudson, the current NAACP president, one feels his enthusiasm and understands his dedication to the organization. But more than that, Hudson expresses regard for all Americans, and views the future of race relations with hope and faith but knows it will be a long road to walk. Hudson knows his people have been walking the road for a long time, but have not finished the journey. Yet, he believes, hand-in-hand, we can make that journey together.

A teacher at Fluvanna County High School, retired from the U.S. Army, a graduate of Tuskegee University and Naval postgraduate, he recently ran for county treasurer. In 2014, Hudson also ran for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 5th District. He has been a member of the NAACP for nine years and president for nearly two years.  Over the years, he was an active member of the Miami, Florida NAACP Chapter and the Charlottesville-Albemarle Chapter.

Husdon explained why he became involved and remains committed.

“I became involved with the NAACP because I wanted to be part of the solution.  As the nation’s preeminent civil and human rights organization, I felt this association was the proper venue for me to explore ways to bring about equity for all; thereby, seeking to close the education gap, eliminating poverty, achieving economic parity, obtaining access to quality and affordable healthcare, equal treatment under the law, and the continued relentless pursuit of our own decree that all men and women are inherently equally entitled to the riches and enjoyment this country has to offer.”

 Hudson’s role as a member of the local NAACP is to assist the chapter with obtaining its stated goals of ensuring the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.

“Additionally, be an integral part of the chapter’s membership growth, promote awareness programs, and assist in the planning and production of community engagement initiatives.”

In the current climate, he views the NAACP’s role as  a positive force for good and believes it will continue to be that way.

“The ideals of social, civil, and criminal justice for all, self-reliance, and the pursuit of unfettered liberty for all county residents are values that everyone can get behind and support.” Husdon sees the NAACP as a chain, bringing people and ideas together link-by-link. Like others who do not embrace the status quo, Hudson espouses change in a positive way.

Regarding the recent protests and Black Lives Matter, some have expressed concern with the groups’ agenda, drawing parallels between BLM and the Black Panthers and citing the similarities in radicalism and violence. The Black Panthers and BLM were formed for the same reasons; both had to do with policing of African-Americans. But Hudson sees it differently and understands as do others who support the movement.

“It as a campaign for legitimate peaceful protest for equity and justice in policing communities of color and the movement is led by mostly young people of all backgrounds who are peacefully and genuinely seeking equity for all Americans,” he said. “I believe the young people of the BLM are saying to us that they do not want to inherit a country that commits police brutality against people of color or any American. The deaths of so many young and unarmed African Americans have been tragic and senseless. In the wake of these fatalities, the BLM movement has given voice to those who lost their lives while interacting with police and to their families who mourn their passing.”

He adds, “The BLM is relevant and their voices have been made stronger through the amplification of diversity emanating from cities across the country.  Certainly, all lives matter; however, BLM is shining a light on police brutality, harsh treatment, and frequent killings of young unarmed African Americans at the hands of some police officers,” he said. “I believe in fair and equitable treatment of all Americans by law enforcement officers is something every American can subscribe to and support.  By doing so, will bring us even closer to those ideals we hold so dearly, which are etched in our country’s founding documents.”

He also responded to the recent destruction and defacing of Confederate monuments and the impending removal of some.

“The disposition of Confederate monuments has been a point of discussion over the past few months.  I believe this is a delicate and sensitive topic for many people regardless of your views of the monuments.  As such, it will require finesse and an adroit facilitator to effectively navigate the several different complex channels associated with this predicament. I believe to reach an amicable solution, it will require honest and sincere dialogue among key interested parties over a series of community collaborative engagements aimed at finding a solution.”

“Ultimately, any solution must achieve the overarching goal of unifying the community.”

Since it is an election year, the NAACP’s goal is to continue to inform, educate, and advocate for voter registration, restoration of voter rights, and maximize voter participation during absentee voting and on election day.

Many factors play a role in shaping the future not only for African-Americans but for people of all color and Hudson says he would like to see a greater acceptance, embracement, and assimilation of the African Americans and people of color into the American experience.

“Positive and constructive dialogue across all dimensions will serve as a suitable mechanism to begin to collaborate and earnestly seek education reform that addresses the need of every child, law enforcement free of bias and hatred toward people of color, affordable housing opportunities for all Americans, unencumbered access to the voting ballot, accessibility to quality healthcare, and economic prosperity and financial stability extended to every citizen.”

He has also been helping former Fluvanna sheriff Ryant Washington and Sharon Harris and others spread the word and get masks out to people in the community during the pandemic.

“As the coronavirus continues to plague our state, country, and the world, communities of color in the United States have been disproportionally affected by covid-19.  Therefore, I encourage people to stay safe and healthy.  Remember the CDC guidelines of staying at home, and if you have to venture out, wear a face-covering, wash your hands frequently, use hand sanitizer often, and practice social distancing.” He recognizes that we are all in this together.

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