NAACP did not object to Alston-Paige
To the editor:
On Monday, three members of our branch disingenuously calling themselves our “selection committee” attended a meeting where they petitioned the City Council to remove a member of the One High Point Commission, Ms. Dawn Alston-Paige (“Paige removed from reparations board,” Nov. 22).
Bernita Sims, Elma Hairston and Bradford Lilley had absolutely no authority to attend this meeting on our behalf nor to make any recommendations representing the High Point Branch NAACP or our Reparations Committee. In fact, no discussion has taken place within the Branch, its leadership or any of our committees to this effect. Most importantly, these individuals had absolutely no right to engage in personal attacks against any commissioners while invoking our name and reputation. For them to do so calls into question their integrity and this Branch wholeheartedly disavows their actions.
We offer our full and unconditional apology to Dawn Alston-Paige, who has unfairly had her character maligned and endured personal humiliation as a result of this attack. Ms. Sims, Ms. Hairston and Mr. Lilley put forward baseless allegations about Ms. Paige that were subsequently published in the news media.
● They said Ms. Paige was the cause of stagnation and slow progress on the One High Point Commission. This couldn’t be further from the truth. By any measure, Ms. Paige has been one of, if not the most focused, resourceful and productive members of the commission. Those who have followed the process from the beginning in June would be exceedingly grateful for her numerous contributions, topic-specific expertise and her network of other experts on reparations.
● Ms. Sims, Ms. Hairston and Mr. Lilley suggested that Ms. Paige damaged the “morale of the group.” However this is demonstrably untrue, as Ms. Paige was but one of many commissioners who came to the Branch in the preceding months to express their deeply held concerns with the leadership, and slow pace of the OHPC, which heavily damaged the morale of the group.
● Although we cannot condone Ms. Paige’s behavior over the past month, we recognize that it did not develop in a vacuum. The recent series of brash actions on her behalf were acts of desperation designed to shine a light on LONGSTANDING issues with the OHPC previously expressed by several other commissioners (one of whom resigned over them), and repeatedly brought up over four months ago by members of our Reparations Committee only to be met with silence. This dynamic could have been mitigated, had our Branch taken these concerns seriously.
The actual One High Point Commission’s Selection Committee consists of four delegates from the City government and four delegates from the High Point Branch NAACP. While Ms. Sims, Ms. Hairston and Mr. Lilley were in fact members of that delegation in February 2022 charged with executing the specific tasks outlined in the resolution, they had no authority or legitimate role in this process after the selection process concluded in the May 2022 appointment of the OHPC Commissioners. Our Branch has a deliberative process for making important decisions such as this and these rogue individuals never brought these new concerns to the Branch as a whole or any committee in the Branch. Even our President was unaware of this action before it took place.
In wrapping their own personal opinions under the cloak of their appointments as Selection Committee delegates, Ms. Sims, Ms. Hairston and Mr. Lilley violated the trust of the Branch and used our name and reputation as a weapon to publicly tear down an accomplished Black woman.
Ken Watts, chairman
Press, Publicity and Communications Committee
High Point Branch NAACP
Editor’s note: This letter was written by the committee and submitted by Watts.