By Rina Risper
The New Citizens Press

    LANSING, MI – In my business, sifting through e-mails can be a chore.  When The New Citizens Press received an email entitled: "What do you think?”  It investigated the claims made by Attorney Ray Mullins from Ypsilanti, MI.
    According to Mr. Mullins he has been an active member of the National Association For the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1973.  He has also been a member of several branches of the NAACP throughout the United States and there has never been an issue with his membership.
      Mr. Mullins received a letter dated January 26, 2007, from the Lansing Branch NAACP, which stated that The Executive Committee voted unanimously at its January 25, 2007 meeting not to accept his membership into the local branch.  Their reason for not accepting his membership was that it was the practice of their unit to accept membership from individuals who reside within the vicinity of the Greater Lansing community.
     Mr. Mullins said, "I don’t think an executive committee has the right to deny membership based on the residence of the person joining. Also, I don’t think the executive committee can make a decision like this without having it approved by the General Membership."
      Executive Committee member Sarah Anthony was contacted regarding the denial of membership.  In an e-mail dated February 15, 2007 Ms. Anthony stated:
  "I was informed about the situation regarding Mr. Ray Mullins. According to the Bylaws of the NAACP, the Executive Committee’s decision to deny membership to Mr. Mullins is appropriate. If you or Mr. Mullins would like to discuss this matter further, please contact the President or Vice President of the Lansing Branch. The 1st Vice President, Winston Williams, would be happy to discuss this matter with you… I would also encourage Mr. Mullins and yourself to read through the Bylaws in order to better understand the Exec. Committees’ decision."
    We also requested a point of reference for the section of the Constitution and Bylaws, which explained the denial of membership, however, we have not received a response.  We contacted the National Office who said that Mr. Mullins issue sounded strange and was referred to NAACP Midwest Region III, Director Shirley Pratt Miles.  We left a message and the phone call has not been returned as of printing time.
    By this time, we received the Constitution of the NAACP and Bylaws for the local branch.
     In the Preamble it states:
"The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, hereinafter referred to as the "NAACP" or the "Association," was founded on the beliefs embodied in the Constitution of the United States of America.  We support democracy, dignity and freedom."
     In Article IV entitled "Membership” it states the qualifications as:
     Any person in accord with the principles and policies of the Association may become a member with the consent of the Board of Directors.  Such person shall become a member by agreeing to abide by the rules and policies of the Association and the decisions of the Board of Directors and by paying in advance the annual membership fee established by the Board of Directors."
     On February 21, 2007 we received an e-mail response from Winston Williams, Jr. 1st Vice President of the Lansing Branch.  He stated that he would be willing to answer The New Citizens Press’ questions if we were to attend the next NAACP General Membership meeting on March 4th at 4:00 pm.
     Mr. Williams also stated,” At that meeting any questions that you have, can be brought to the floor before the members and those questions will be discussed and addressed.  We wish for this dialog with you and any concerned members on any matters to be open and honest.  I hope to see you at the meeting."
       Our request for a reason to an individual’s membership still has not been answered.  The point is if you are going to refer to the Constitution it should not take this long to answer a simple question especially if your organization sent the letter.
       Well, what do you think?