Local NAACP President Jerome Mondesire and his three accusers, Donald “Ducky” Birts, the Rev. Elisha Morris and Sid Booker have been formally suspended by the national office, according to Booker on Thursday.
“The three of us received our letters on Tuesday and Jerry got his letter today [Thursday],” he said.
The letter states “your membership is hereby suspended effective as of the date of this letter (April 2).” It also lists concerns over the release of organizational information to the media, in addition to questions over the Philadelphia chapter’s finances.
The letter instructs a cease and desist from acting or holding out as a member of the NAACP, with 15 calendar days from the date of the letter to request a hearing before a Hearing Panel of the National Board of Directors.
The letter is signed by Lorraine C. Miller, who is the Interim President and CEO of the NAACP. It also references Rev. Gill Ford, National Director of Unit Administration. Neither returned phone calls at press time.
Birts, who confirmed receiving the suspension letter, said the organization was “a dollar late.”
“This has been going on for five months,” he said. “I’m a front stabber not a back stabber. And nobody is against the NAACP. It’s the leadership that we question. And Mr. Mondesire was treating us like his peons.”
Mondesire did not return phone calls at press time.
The move by the national board comes weeks after Mondesire announced Birts, Morris and Booker had been relived of their duties with the local NAACP branch.
In a prior interview with The Tribune, Mondesire detailed reasons for dismissing the three.
“They’ve [the accusers] alleged that some money is going through it [the corporation],” he said. “Have people given checks to that corporation in order to get a tax write-off from the NAACP? A few did over the years. But no large sums of money. No.”
When asked about the genesis of this four-way conflict, Mondesire said it stemmed from a decision to fire Morris and provided some salacious details about it.
“I fired Morris as a youth director, and I disassociated Birts from the dinner because he was using the contact information he got from the NAACP to enrich himself with his questionable dinner held every April — the so-called Ducky Birts Foundation,” Mondesire said. “This is petty revenge because they have been dismissed for their incompetence and self-aggrandizement. Birts was using contacts we had for his dinner, and then contact those same people about tickets for his so-called foundation.
“NAACP business is NAACP business,” he added. “There’s nothing that’s been done. No money was taken, no money was stolen, no money was misappropriated, as I said in my letter to the board in which they accepted. This is all internal. They are the ones that have gone outside. You haven’t seen the treasurer. You haven’t seen the secretary or other board members joining them. These are three very disgruntled dissatisfied old men. I’m done with talking about it.”
At issue is money earmarked for the local chapter the trio contends instead made its way to nonprofit Next Generation — specifically, a $100,000 grant that was earmarked for the local branch but instead, the trio claims, went to Next Generation — with only $55,000 coming out and going toward the branch.
That is just one incident, Booker said, noting that many more individuals outside of himself, Birts and Morris voiced concerns.
“[Mondesire] focused this on three individuals, but 23 people were involved in this. There were 23 people that made statements, and there are 23 voices that said this must be done,” Booker said, noting five executive committee members and five members who are also preachers were at that fateful November 2013 meeting and will be present at Tuesday’s meeting. “Everything we have done is by the bylaws. Jerry doesn’t have anything. If there is no money missing, then Jerry has nothing to hide, so he can just put everything on the table. That’s all he has to do.”
Booker said the general membership were “intimidated” by Mondesire, and everything came to a head during that November 2013 meeting due to cascading factors: Mondesire was out of town, and the branch building on Cecil B. Moore Avenue lacked heat.
That is when Booker suggested the meeting be held at his establishment, and membership let go with a series of complaints and questions that Booker told them to put to Mondesire.
The 22 questions came as a result of that meeting, Booker said.
And, according to Booker, things didn’t start out this way, but Mondesire’s overbearing nature has made many an enemy from onetime friends.
“[Mondesire] started off with good ideas and whatnot, but as he went along, we didn’t decide to look over things he was doing, but gave the OK [anyway]. Now, we go to a meeting, and he tells us what he did and we didn’t know anything about it. It really is a one man operation,” Booker said, using as an example that he was a member of the Next Generation executive committee, but that committee never once met.
“When the national convention was held here ten years ago, I have a letter from the national organization that says the national didn’t want Jerry’s involvement; they sent Jerry the letter, explaining to him not to touch anything [related to the convention],” Booker continued. “John Street was the mayor then, and John didn’t want him involved.
“Jerry is intimidating, and has everyone scared.”
Contact Johann Calhoun at 215-893-5739