Malone Defends Chambers County NAACP
“The whole thing was a conspiracy that started in the mayor’s office”
T-P-V News Staff
An article that appeared in last Wednesday’s Valley Times News was just enough to raise eyebrows and cause folks to question the existence and legitimacy of Chambers County’s NAACP Branch and it’s President, Tony D. Malone.
In an interview this week, Lanett City Councilman, Tony D. Malone offered a strong response in defense of the Chambers County/Valley Branch of NAACP.
During the interview, Malone provided a copy of a forwarded email document left at his place of employment by an unknown person on Monday August 4, 2008.
The document, sent by Gwen Harris Brooks, President of the Lanett City School Board reads: “Do we have an active branch of the NAACP in the Chambers County, Alabama. The, Lanett Valley, area? Mr. Tony Malone has identified himself as President of the Chambers County Branch of the NAACP… I am Gwen Harris Brooks, President of the Lanett City School Board … Thanks for your reply to this note.”
The email had apparently been sent by Harris to Ed Vaughn, NAACP State Conference of Branches. Dates contained in the email indicate that the following morning, August 5, Brooks’ email was forwarded to Mayor Crawley.
“The same day that it was forwarded to the Mayor, somebody brought it right on to me on Tuesday” Malone stated.
“I went to lunch, and when I returned, I was given a copy of the email. To this day, I don’t know who delivered it nor how the person was even able to access it, since a person’s email is supposed to be secure. When I returned from lunch, I was told that somebody had come by and left this for me. I read it.”
Malone, an outspoken opponent of the closing of the former L.B. Sykes, Jr., High School, believes with the growing intensity of the political climate in Lanett, Harris and Crawley may have felt pressured to try to find what they viewed as the only way to “silence” him.
“It is clear Harris and Crawley were working together in an effort to both discredit and silence me from speaking out on various issues.”
Malone said, “I was not worried about the statements concerning the Chambers County NAACP Branch, because I know where we stand with the Association.”
“But, what concerns me most is that clearly, Mrs. Harris-Brooks, and Mayor Crawley conspired to cast suspicion on my standing with the community. It is obvious from the article in the Valley Times News, that Vaughn was led to believe that the Branch was endorsing political candidates. I would just like to know why. Regardless of any position I hold in the NAACP, I can personally endorse any candidate I want to endorse… They can’t stop that.”
After several failed attempts to reach Ed Vaughn, and other State Conference Officials by telephone, The People’s Voice spoke to Jerome Gray of Montgomery, a state political consultant, and long-time participant in the Alabama State Conference of NAACP Branches.
“I know that can’t be true .. as long as Tony Malone has been working with the NAACP down there in Chambers County.”
“Vaughn probably reacted because he felt an immediate threat to the integrity of the NAACP at any suggestion that a President would be endorsing candidates in the name of the Association. The Organization’s Tax-Exempt Status has come under close scrutiny because of claims of suspected political activity.”
Gray stated that he understood how that could happen, since he had recently attended the NAACP National Convention as a delegate from his Branch, and was not permitted to vote in the Convention, because the required paper-work had never been acknowledged by the national office. “I don’t know if the problem was with our branch, or the national … But I know I wasn’t allowed to vote.”
Other local Presidents agree, including Reverend William A. Dean of Roanoke, President of Randolph County’s Branch #5052.
“In January of 2007, we forwarded all required materials to re-activate our charter and we have not heard from them yet. Any officer of the NAACP can tell you that ours is not the most efficient organization, when it comes to maintaining records, and such.”
Malone stated that he does not blame State President Ed Vaughn for issuing the statement he did. “But, I wish he had checked more thoroughly before issuing such a statement.”
“Perhaps Harris and Crawley thought they would succeed in preventing me from speaking out on issues. I just don’t know. But, there is nothing preventing me from speaking out on any issue. I’m a city councilman, and most importantly, a citizen.”
Malone stated that he is in communication with NAACP State President Ed Vaughn, who is expected to issue a corrected press release regarding the matter. “In the meantime,” said Malone, “any concerns regarding the Chambers County-Valley NAACP are between Ed Vaughn and me, and at this time are not subject to public debate.”
The People’s Voice was successful in locating a record of Chambers County’s NAACP Branch #5012, on it’s national website. The branch is listed there along with the current address and telephone information for Mr. Tony D. Malone.