Mary Brown-Guillory of Burlington, VT; new president of the Champlain Area chapter of the NAACP
Since 2009, I always assumed that all 50 states had local chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). I distinctly remember that I wasn't too surprised when I learned from Pam's House Blend that the Maine NAACP supported marriage equality in 2009; I was far more surprised that Maine had a branch of the NAACP in the first place, given its reputation as being one of the whitest states in the union (according to its' website, The Portland ME chapter of the NAACP has existed since the 1920's).
So I was, again, surprised, to learn earlier that on July 20th of this year, Vermont opened the first branch of the NAACP in the state's history.
Burlington — Vermont, one of the whitest states in the country, has its first official branch of the NAACP after more than 100 years.
“It’s time,” said Champlain Area NAACP President Mary Brown-Guillory.
Racially charged incidents both locally and nationally prompted organizers to start the branch, Brown-Guillory said.
People think of the Green Mountains as an inclusive place but injustices happen, she said — a girl called racist names as she walks home from school in a small town, or people facing discrimination when renting or buying a house or a car, or trying to get a job or a haircut.
But the new branch’s meeting last week illustrates its diverse support; Only about a quarter of the 80 attendees were black.
UPDATE: According to the Burlington Free Press, the Champlain Area Branch was "formed" in April and held its' first public meeting July 14. Do note that the headline at the links says that "NAACP to launch first chapter July 14."
Going all Rachel Dolezal isn't even necessary for NAACP membership and it never was.
I guessed that a NAACP chapter wouldn't have opened if there wasn't an actual or perceived need so off to the GoogleBoomTube I went:
An issue of immediate concern for the new Vermont NAACP branch is the recent confirmation of Brandon del Pozo as Burlington's new police chief by an 11-0 vote by the Burlington City Council.
Those who selected del Pozo never anticipated the wave of criticism that would follow. But in the digital era, anyone can do a Google search. Community members found information online that left them wondering whether the search team had done a sufficiently thorough job.
In particular, they questioned a grad school paper del Pozo published in 2001 that suggested racial profiling had a place in police work. His extensive NYPD résumé drove some to conclude that he was involved in the department's Muslim surveillance tactics, for which the city is about to settle a lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union.
Abdullah Sall, a Burlington Muslim who used to live in New York, accused him of anti-Muslim prejudice, directly connecting him to NYPD's post-9/11 profiling of Muslims. "We should not be looking to take expertise from the problematic culture of the NYPD," Sall told city councilors Monday night. "The chief of police should always be an established community member."
Del Pozo's response: "I had absolutely no part in the surveillance of any individual."
In interviews before the council meeting, del Pozo denounced the racial profiling and Muslim community infiltration tactics the NYPD is accused of using. "The infiltration of mosques had the effect of destroying the trust of members of that community," del Pozo told Seven Days.
Other news reports of racism in Vermont include:
Vermont Today: ‘Put yourself in my skin color’ by Eric Blaisdell (a 2013 story)
BARRE — To Latoya Coleman, Vermont is more racist than Tennessee.
Burlington Free Press: Tempers flare in House over accusations of racism
Coleman, a black single mother from Tennessee living in Barre, moved to Vermont nine months ago and has spent the last three in the Granite City.
She says those three months have taught her plenty about how some in central Vermont see people of color.
A month ago, Coleman said, she went to a sandwich shop in Barre. While her sandwich was being made, she said, she overheard one of the employees say to another, “She can’t afford this (sandwich) because she’s black.”
Coleman said she became upset, told the employees they could keep the sandwich and left.
“It’s really sad how people look upon (race) here,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s because they are not an open community or if they are afraid or what it may be. They should be more welcoming.”
Coleman related another incident a couple of weeks ago at a fast food restaurant in Berlin. She said she was sitting in the play area of the restaurant watching her daughter, who is mixed race and has lighter skin than Coleman.
While she was sitting there, Coleman said, she noticed the other parents in the play area start to look around at the other children. Then a man approached her and asked where her child was and why she was in the play area.
Coleman said she told the man, “My daughter is right there. She’s been playing with your son the whole time.”
Coleman has had enough. She said she is now on a mission to stop racial profiling in the state and educate people that not all people of color come to Vermont to collect state benefits or sell drugs. Coleman has spoken with the mayors of Barre and Montpelier and at a recent Montpelier City Council meeting.
by Terri Hallenbeck (a 2014 story)
The meltdown came a day after Rep. Jean O’Sullivan, a Burlington Democrat, accused Rep. Duncan Kilmartin, a Republican from Newport, of making racist comments about education test scores. Kilmartin compared Vermont’s test scores to those of Texas. Vermont schools are lagging if one removes the test scores of minorities in Texas from consideration, given that Vermont has few minorities.
Seven Days: Protest Denounces Racism in Vermont and Supports Old North End Family
At the end of the day’s session Thursday, Kilmartin rose to say he would have avoided revisiting the issue if he had received an apology, but lacking one, he wanted to say he didn’t appreciate being accused of racism.
Rep. Thomas Terenzini, R-Rutland, who sits next to Kilmartin on the House floor, stood to support him. “Yesterday was just a disgrace,” he said, addressing Smith. “As speaker of the House I’d like you to settle the situation.”
House Republican Leader Don Turner of Milton then asked that Kilmartin’s Thursday comments be committed to the House journal. Within minutes, members were taking the unusual step of holding a roll-call vote on whether to journalize the remarks.
by Kevin Kelley (a 2013 story).
About 30 demonstrators rallied this morning outside criminal court in Burlington to denounce racism and voice support for an African American family involved in a July 1 fracas with Burlington police. The demonstrators held placards and chanted slogans such as "BPD — Stop police brutality!"
Susalyn Kirkland, 56 (pictured below), greeted the protesters following a brief appearance in court on charges of impeding a public officer, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. A hearing on her case was set for August 14.
"I didn't do any of that," Kirkland declared outside the courthouse on Cherry Street. "I don't know why they're lying," she said in regard to Burlington police. "They should be telling the truth."
Two of Kirkland's sons — Hassan Williams, 16, and a 15-year-old whose name is not being disclosed — are said by police to have attacked Sgt. Brad Trombley. The officer was responding to a complaint of BB guns being fired at a Spring Street home in the Old North End.
For some reason, I can't imagine THIS many white folk at a similar protest of police misconduct against African Americans taking place in Chicago.
One aspect of Vermont's racial mix that I also noticed in Maine in 2009 was the influx of African immigrants. Back to the Valley News piece:
The new Vermont branch seeks to represent immigrants who have recently arrived in Vermont or minorities who have been here for years, Brown-Guillory said. Since 1988, about 7,000 refugees including more than 1,200 Africans have resettled in Vermont, mostly in Chittenden County, according to the Vermont field office of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.