NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk NAACP members are expected to choose next month between challenger Jalin Sead and incumbent Brenda Penn-Williams in a delayed election for the local branch presidency.
Penn-Williams, who’s been president since 2016, said Wednesday that she doesn’t know why the national NAACP took over the local branch’s election, which is ordinarily held in November.
“Folks called to contest it,” she said.
“I first want to thank all of the members for sticking through this unusual process,” said Sead, who unsuccessfully took on Penn-Williams in 2016, when then-President Darnell Crosland stepped down.
The election had been scheduled for Friday, in a Dec. 29 email sent to the Norwalk membership. Penn-Williams said Wednesday she thought it was Saturday and Sead said Friday. An email forwarded Thursday to NancyOnNorwalk said a Zoom meeting is planned for Saturday, to plan the election tentatively planned for Feb. 16.
It will be held online via Election Buddy, according to the NAACP communications. Norwalk NAACP members are eligible to vote and Sead has said he was attempting to sign up new members. He offered no update Wednesday.
NancyOnNorwalk asked Penn-Williams what she might do differently in the next two years if she’s reelected.
“I don’t think that what I’ve done and continue to do wasn’t that bad and for some people is a great thing,” Penn-Williams said.
“My first plan is to unite our branch after this turbulent process, and reactivate our Branches committees. Like President Elect Biden, I don’t see us as the ‘old guard and the new guard’; I see us as the Norwalk Branch of the NAACP, the guard against injustice and racially discrimination. It is time we come together and work towards the many things effecting our community.
“The NAACP is a collective group of people with many skills and years of wisdom. So Reactivating our committees, and giving them the room and tools to grow and operate, will create productivity in our efforts.
“With so many new members as well as dedicated established members, I want to hear everyones ideas. I will host events to engage the membership and community. For example we’ve started a Community Support Group, that focuses on improving and supporting our mental health. We are working on a ‘Be The Change’ campaign that will recruit mentors for the shortage of mentors that multiple agencies are facings.
“There is a lot of work to be done, and I am ready to get to work. With a Nation divided, I will tirelessly work to planting seeds of unity and productivity.”
Here’s some topical thoughts expressed Wednesday by Penn-Williams and Sead:
The riot last week at the U.S. Capitol
On Tuesday, Penn-Williams said the rioters, who were predominantly white, were treated much differently that the Black Lives Matter protests from over the summer.
“This is just a racist country,” Penn-Williams said Wednesday, explaining that she’s seeking an “even keel for everybody.”
“Just because we have a different skin color. We all have intelligence. We all bleed,” she said, reminiscing that the late Rev. Martin Luther King said, “one day his children will walk hand in hand with white kids” and, “that’s all I want. This is 2021 we should not be acting in the manner that we at towards people of color.
Sead wrote, “Last weeks insurrection was a visualization of how divided our country is. We know that the way they handled the Black Lives Matter protest from this past summer is a stark contrast to how they handled the coup, and this is another example of the work we have to do in this country.”
He said, “We have to ask ourselves, ‘where do we go from here?’ The time for healing is now, and it’s up to us to come together.”
About the COVID-19 vaccination process
“I have not gotten any reports on who’s getting them, you know, so I have no comment,” Penn-Williams said.
Sead wrote, “There is work to do, I strongly believe that special care should be taken when you are speaking to marginalized groups with historical trauma. I urge everyone to secure a transparent process to give the community the assurance they need. Luckily, we know that brighter days are ahead, because of science.”
The proposal to renovate the former Briggs High School and turn it into a welcome center.
“I really want to see an alternative school return here,” Penn-Williams said, calling it “detrimental to the children” that Briggs closed. Marie Allen did a “phenomenal job” as Briggs principal and “some kids are not college material. And they need it that type of outlet.”
She called former Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski a “racist” who “messed it up.”
“When they close Briggs, they couldn’t even find those kids,” she said.
Children who aren’t educated become criminals, she said. “There’s a lot of kids of color that cannot read. They’re deflecting in the classroom, behavior is off the chart, they are showing off, being bad, because they do not want their peers to know that they can’t read or write.”
Sead wrote, “From what I’ve read the Welcome Center is a great idea, however I would like to discuss how we can improve the experience for students who would be attending Briggs, or Pathways Academy. I look forward to having positive and productive conversations with the superintendent.”
Penn-Williams said she doesn’t understand why the press is interested in the NAACP election, given that it’s a private organization.
Story corrected at 9:30 p.m. to show that the election is Saturday.